News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2012
WAYNESBORO, Ga. -- Four teenagers charged with burglary in Waynesboro went before a juvenile judge Thursday afternoon and News 12 had the only camera in the courtroom.
The boys were arrested earlier this week in what police officers are calling an organized crime ring. Investigators believe they're responsible for at least seven burglaries and car break-ins.
After laying down the law, Juvenile Court Judge Doug Flanagan decided he would move forward with felony burglary charges. He also set bond and strict curfew for the four teenagers. The boys had their feet shackled as they walked into the Burke County courtroom.
Investigators say the teenagers were terrorizing a neighborhood, working with two men, including 19-year old Devante Sharpe.They say the two men were the ringleaders, taking orders in town for items and then sending the juveniles into homes to steal them. Things like electronics, jewelry and other stolen goods.
The boys range in age from 13 to 16. Two of them are brothers, who play football for the school, one in eight grade and the other in ninth grade.
Several parents and guardians were there and spoke to the judge about the charges. They all said they were surprised by the alleged crimes and say the boys are good students -- that have made some bad choices.
Flanagan granted a bond of $3,000 for each teen, as well as a 7 p.m. daily curfew.
"Some of them are hanging around with some adults and a lot of times they're easily led, but you notice the adults were not here sticking up for them," Flanagan said. "The only people here today were their parents, and I tell all young teenagers, you know, when you get in trouble, your parents and the people that love you will be here. Your friends are not going to come forward and say, 'I committed the crime, give the blame to me.'"
Because they're charged with a felony, the boys can also not return to school until their case goes to court. They're facing anywhere from one to five years behind bars.
A another 12-year-old juvenile was not in court. He was taken to the Youth Detention Center earlier this week. The second adult suspect is still on the loose.
Officers have been able to recover some of the stolen property, but if you think you have some stolen goods, turn them in, as you could be charged with receiving stolen property.