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Ex-trustee charged in police department burglary

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

Bond was denied Friday for a Clayton County man, who allegedly confessed to burglarizing the headquarters of the McDonough Police Department.

Jamie Lee Clark, 33, of Jonesboro, is charged with two counts of burglary and criminal interference with government property, as well as tampering with evidence and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He is also charged with two probation violations.

Clark is suspected in connection with a June 2 burglary at the McDonough Police Department office, located at 88 Keys Ferry Street.

According to Police Chief Preston Dorsey, Clark allegedly broke into the agency at approximately 1:30 a.m., and stole guns and narcotics from the evidence room.

Clark worked as a trustee at the police department for more than a year, while he was an inmate at the Henry County Jail. Dorsey said authorities immediately suspected Clark was involved with the break-in, and contacted the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) for assistance in the case.

"The morning that we found the burglary, we realized this was somebody who was familiar with the operation of the McDonough Police Department," said Dorsey. During a press conference at the police department Friday, Dorsey said police contacted Clark 24-48 hours after the burglary.

"Of course, he kept denying [involvement] on the phone," said the chief. "After a day or so, he eventually cut his phone off, so we didn't know where he was. We checked every residence where we thought he was staying, and every place he had visited, we had been there. Eventually ... the GBI and our detectives had cut his means of support off."

Clark was arrested Saturday, on a probation warrant. Dorsey said when the suspect was interviewed by detectives Sunday, he gave a "full confession" to burglarizing the police department, and a storage container on property owned by the city.

"He spent close to an hour getting into the evidence room," said Dorsey. "Once he got in there, he said he spent about 45 minutes going through all the evidence."

Detective Chris Morris led the burglary investigation for the police department. He said police spent approximately 6-8 hours interviewing Clark, before he "cooperated" with investigators.

"We know we have the right man, because some of the things he told us when he was being interviewed, were things only the investigators and the suspect would have known," said the detective.

Morris said the GBI, as well as police departments in Clayton County and the City of Jonesboro, contributed significantly to the investigation. "Everybody took the case personally, based on the nature of the crime," he said. "Based on information that surfaced during the investigation, we conducted a search warrant in Jonesboro utilizing the Clayton County SWAT [Special Weapons and Tactics] team. We were able to recover some of the items taken in the burglary."

According to police, Clark allegedly sold some of the McDonough department's property, including 10 guns. The warrant was executed at 212 King Street in Jonesboro, where the GBI apprehended Elvin DeLeon and charged him with one count of theft by receiving. Several others were also charged with drug offenses as a result of the execution of the search warrant.

However, Morris said contrary to published reports, none of the individuals who purchased the guns are believed to have any involvement in the burglary. "They just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time," he said.

The detective added that Clark has an extensive criminal history, with a number of theft-related crimes, and has been a trustee at the McDonough Police Department on two separate occasions.

Morris said authorities investigating the burglary case were able to learn about "two different sides" to the suspect. "There's the Mr. Clark who is on narcotics and makes a string of bad decisions, and there's the Mr. Clark who's straight and appears to be a very nice person," said Morris. "Apparently, the one who's on drugs is the dominant personality."

Chief Dorsey provided additional details regarding the burglary case Friday. He said authorities are still trying to locate nine of the 10 pistols, which Clark allegedly took from the agency.

The chief said Clark had also been allowed to train with the McDonough Fire Department, during his time as a trustee. The goal of both agencies, according to Dorsey, was to help the suspect lead a more productive life.

"The fire department had ... taken him under their wing with the approval of the sheriff's department," said Dorsey. "One of the things he wanted to do once he got out jail, was to continue on with his firefighting career. This was a chance for the City of McDonough fire and police departments to help rehabilitate Mr. Clark, but, unfortunately, that didn't happen."

Dorsey said that in the wake of the burglary, he has elected to discontinue the use of jail trustees at the McDonough Police Department, until further notice.

"As of right now, we are not participating in bringing trustees over from the jail to the police department," he said. "We have just eliminated that problem altogether."

The chief said he plans to meet with representatives of the District Attorney's Office to determine what effect -- if any -- the missing evidence will have on pending court cases.

Dorsey expressed gratitude to his detectives, as well as other state and local agencies who helped in the investigation. He said his department is continuing their efforts in the case, to follow leads in an attempt to find the stolen guns and drugs.

Clark appeared Friday in Henry County Magistrate Court, and a preliminary hearing in his case was reset for July 8. Due to the nature of the suspect's criminal history, Judge Robert Godwin refused to issue a bond for the suspect.

Anyone who has information regarding the missing evidence, is asked to contact the McDonough Police Department or the GBI.