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Suspect ditches $76,656 after fleeing traffic stop

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

A 33-year old man told Clayton County Sheriff's deputies that he could not explain where, or how, he acquired $76,656 in cash that he was allegedly throwing away, after fleeing from the deputies -- first in his car at high speeds, and then on foot, Tuesday.

Toriano Shahun Sharpe is facing five charges, including making an improper lane change; a car window tinting violation; driving on the wrong side of the road; obstructing an officer, and fleeing from police under hazardous conditions.

As he tried to flee on foot, he was allegedly tossing bags of cash from a duffle bag, according to Clayton County Sheriff's Office spokesperson, Sgt. Sonja Sanchez. But, Sharpe told deputies the origins of the money, and how it came into his possession, were a mystery to him -- as if the cash magically came into his possession, said Sanchez.

"He said he didn't know where it came from; it wasn't his ...," she said.

During a first appearance hearing on Wednesday afternoon, Clayton County Magistrate Court Judge Robert F. Dolph set bond at a total of $16,500 for Sharpe.

He is scheduled to appear in Magistrate Court again on March 11, at 8 a.m., in courtroom 201, at the Harold R. Banke Justice Center, in Jonesboro.

In arrest warrants filed Tuesday, Sheriff's Deputy Eddie J. McGhee wrote that he observed Sharpe "fail to drive a white dodge vehicle ... within a single lane, leaving the designated lane of traffic on four different occasions."

Sanchez said the lane changes occurred on Camp Creek Parkway.

McGhee wrote that other drivers were in danger, because of the way Sharpe was allegedly changing lanes. "The accused failed to signal a lane change," the deputy wrote. "The action of the accused put other drivers at risk of injury."

McGhee pulled Sharpe over at 4 p.m., on Tuesday, partly because of the alleged lane changes, and partly because of the tinting on his vehicle's windows.

While McGhee had Sharpe pulled over, the 33-year old allegedly jumped back into his car and took off. "The accused [Sharpe] re-entered the car while Deputy McGhee was investigating the traffic violations, fled the scene at a high rate of speed," the deputy wrote in the arrest warrant. "Deputy McGhee pursued the accused ... with emergency equipment activated. The accused drove the wrong way on an interstate exit ramp at rush hour."

Once on the interstate, Sharpe allegedly pulled off to the side of the road, abandoned his vehicle and fled on foot, Sanchez said. She could not specify how far he had driven on the interstate before attempting to flee on foot. That is when he allegedly tried to ditch the money, according to the Sheriff's Office spokesperson.

"While he was running, he was throwing bags of money from a large duffle bag," said Sanchez, in a written statement. "Our certified drug interdiction K-9 alerted on the money that was located upon his [Sharpe's] arrest."

Sanchez said the money is being held by the Sheriff's Office under the category of abandoned property and forfeiture of unclaimed drug proceeds.

Sharpe's case has been assigned to the Clayton County Public Defender's office. He was still in the Clayton County Jail late Wednesday.