By Ed Brock
At least three prisoners at the Clayton County work release program have been connected to a tractor trailer theft ring.
And one of the prisoners is believed to have driven a stolen truck to the old Clayton County jail in Lovejoy where the work release prisoners used to be housed, according to Clayton County Police Detective Thomas Martin.
Arrest warrants on charges of theft by have been issued for Greg Holden, Sr., 52, of Conley, the man Martin said was recruiting other prisoners from the work release program to help him steal trailers full of goods from a storage lot at 5709 Old Dixie Highway.
"He was telling them what he wanted them to do," Martin said.
Holden and the others are believed to have stolen several trailers containing around $750,000 worth of items including beef stew, shoes and Toyo tires. Two trailers of items were recovered at Holden's company, Holden Trucking, in DeKalb County.
Authorities there arrested Sylvester Baisden, 32, of Augusta after they caught him driving a truck owned by Holden and towing a stolen trailer. Baisden is not in the Clayton County work release program.
Martin said they are looking for a third work release prisoner but he could not release his name, either.
The investigation started with the arrest of one of the work release inmates who was driving a truck of stolen goods. Martin said that man, a work release prisoner whose name he can't release because he is cooperating with authorities, told them that Holden recruited him to join the theft ring in January.
Prisoners in the work release program are allowed to go to their jobs during the day but must report to jail in the evening or, in some cases, on weekends, Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill said. The sheriff's office makes periodic checks on the prisoners to make sure they are employed, and they did verify that Holden owned a trucking company and was supposedly going there during the day.
"We had no way to know if he was stealing trailers," Hill said.
Hill has a warrant issued for Holden as well on a charge of escape since he has failed to report back to the program for over eight hours.
Martin said the prisoner who is cooperating with the investigation and Holden drove a stolen tractor truck to the old jail on some occasions. They verified that the truck was stolen because it failed to start one day and had to be towed from the jail to the Freightliner lot on Frontage Road near Forest Park.
Hill said the prisoners in the program are allowed to drive their own vehicles to report to jail and deputies would not have reason to be suspicious of Holden's truck, especially since they knew Holden owned a trucking company.
About a month and a half ago Hill moved the work release program into the county's main jail in the Harold R. Banke Justice Center because the conditions at the Lovejoy facility were "deplorable." Hill also said he moved the program because there were not enough people stationed at the old jail to properly oversee the program.
Holden has served a five-year sentence in federal prison on a similar charge of stealing trailers and may be trying to work for another trucking company, Martin said.
Anyone with information on Holden's whereabouts can call Clayton County police at (770) 477-3650 or the sheriff's office at (678) 479-5350.