I-TEAM: How an arrest was erased in Burke County
CLARIFICATION: This article has been updated to reflect Rex Myers has the role of intake attorney for all Burke County cases. WRDW’s previous reference to Mr. Myers as having the role of jail intake should not be interpreted as Mr. Myers having the responsibility of booking Gary Flakes, Jr. nor that Mr. Myers has any authority over operations at the Burke County Detention Center.
WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – It’s a case of a disappearing arrest. The I-TEAM has uncovered two men – facing the same felony charges connected to the same felony crime – were treated very differently.
We’re not just talking about their experience in jail.
One of the men was arrested, but it appears the other man was … un-arrested?
Un-arrested is the best word we could come up with here, even though you can’t technically un-arrest someone. That’s not even possible, yet it’s exactly what it appears the sheriff of Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams did in this case.
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This is a tale of two men and their very similar arrests. Daniel Nunn was arrested first.
Waynesboro officer: “Turn around for me. I got a warrant for your arrest.”
Daniel Nunn: “For what?”
Gary Flakes Jr. was arrested three days later.
Gary Flakes Jr.: “What’s going on?”
Officer: “You got a warrant for your arrest.”
Gary Flakes Jr.: “A warrant for my arrest?”
Officer: “Yes, sir.”
Both arrests were captured on Waynesboro police body cam.
Felony warrants accused Nunn and Flakes of working together to cheat an elderly woman out of her home. Both men are no longer facing any charges connected to this.
However, even when you are cleared of all charges, there’s still a record of your arrest. For instance, here’s Daniel Nunn’s mug shot:
Gary Flakes Jr. doesn’t have a mug shot. The jail has no record of his arrest that night Waynesboro Police took him into custody. The I-TEAM clearly has body cam video of him being arrested, so how did his arrest just disappear?
The answer exposes how Burke County Sheriff Williams controls who has an arrest record in Burke County and who doesn’t.
When Waynesboro police arrested Daniel Nunn, he was living at the home on Westgate Drive in Waynesboro. The house on Westgate Drive is at the center of all of this. Body cam shows an elderly woman answered the door.
Daniel Nunn: “I work for Gary Flakes.”
Waynesboro officer: “Gary Flakes?”
Daniel Nunn: “Can I call him?”
Waynesboro officer: “No. Just wait.”
Gary Flakes Jr. owns Air Now, a heating and air company.
Police believe Flakes was at the house on a service call months earlier when he talked the elderly homeowner into renting one of her rooms to his employee Daniel Nunn.
Nunn was wearing an Air Now shirt when he was taken into custody.
Nunn’s first call behind bars was to Flakes.
Daniel Nunn: “Hey, Gary.”
Gary Flakes Jr.: “Yeah.”
Daniel Nunn: “This is about that house.”
Flakes got that house for a deal. He bought it from the elderly woman whom, an investigator notes, suffers from dementia. Warrants say Flakes paid $28,467 even though the fair market value was $71,001.
During that jail phone call, Nunn drops an important name for the first time. He asks Flakes, “Can’t you call Alphonso and talk to him about it?” It appears he’s referencing Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams.
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As county sheriff, Williams had no jurisdiction in this case because Waynesboro police arrested Nunn.
On that same jail phone call, Flakes seems to joke, “I’m surprised they haven’t come to get me, too.”
Three days later, Waynesboro police officers did come for Flakes. They approached him at the scene of his son’s car accident. Waynesboro PD bodycam shows an officer walking up to Flakes as his son sitting in the back of an ambulance. The EMT asks Flakes if his son should go to the hospital to “get checked out.” You can hear Flakes tell the EMT, “It’s up to his mama.”
Flakes’ son did take a ride in that ambulance as a precaution, but first, his father took a ride in a Waynesboro police car.
Waynesboro officer: “Take your hands out your pockets for me. Just relax.”
Gary Flakes Jr.: “What’s going on?”
Waynesboro officer: “You got a warrant for your arrest.”
Gary Flakes Jr.: “A warrant for my arrest?”
Waynesboro officer: “Yes, sir. We got felony warrants on you.”
Gary Flakes Jr.: “Oh, my God.”
Again, these warrants have since been dismissed.
WARRANT AND BOOKING FILES:
On the night of Gary Flakes Jr.’s arrest, Daniel Nunn is still in jail, and we know from their phone call days earlier, Flakes probably isn’t surprised he’s about to head there, too.
He tells the officer on scene, “Yeah. I know what it’s about.”
Even Flakes’ wife seemed to know this was coming.
Waynesboro officer (to Flakes’ wife): “He’s got felony warrants for exploitation of the elderly.”
Gary Flakes Jr.’s wife: “I know. We’ve been – we’ve been dealing with this, and it’s not even true.”
Waynesboro officer: “I understand.”
Gary Flakes Jr.’s wife: “Not even true.”
Waynesboro officer: “Oh, it’s true.”
Back in the police car, Gary Flakes Jr. says he’s already gotten the Burke County sheriff involved.
“I’ve been talking to Alfonzo and Lee trying to get to the bottom of this bulls---t. It’s bulls—t. It’s f-----g bulls—t.”
Gary Flakes Jr.: “Am I staying at the city tonight or the county?”
Waynesboro officer: “No, you’ll go to the county. We don’t have a jail.”
On the way to jail, body cam is still rolling as Flakes continues to drop names.
“See, I got a lawyer to uh, try to get my buddy out of jail, right? And he talked to f-----g, uh, Rex Myers today.”
Rex Myers is a former Burke County probate judge. He now works for the District Attorney’s Office and also has the role of intake attorney for all Burke County cases.
The Waynesboro police officer’s body cam keeps recording as he walks Gary Flakes Jr. into the Burke County Detention Center and handles the initial paperwork. The whole process doesn’t take very long. All the Waynesboro officer does is drop Flakes off at the county detention center.
Burke County jail employees should then take a mug shot and fingerprints, but when the Waynesboro officer left that night, none of that ever happened.
Gary Flakes Jr. was never booked into jail.
The next morning, the Waynesboro police officer investigating the case called the Burke County Detention Center to question Flakes. She was told “Flakes hasn’t been booked there since 2006.”
The I-TEAM sent an open records request for everyone booked into jail during that time frame. We couldn’t find a record of Flakes’ arrest, either.
It’s like the arrest never even happened.
The I-TEAM did find an email sent the day after Waynesboro police arrested Gary Flakes Jr. The officer investigating the case is asking for his booking information because – she says – “Rex has inquired about the case.”
Again – that’s Rex Myers – the former judge who now works for the DA’s office – who Gary Flakes mentioned on his ride to jail.
Then, there’s Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams.
The I-TEAM asked to sit down with Sheriff Williams. He was “not willing to sit down for an interview.”
But, in an email to our I-TEAM, he admitted: “As sheriff, I reserve the right to decide in many instances who is released from my jail. The police arrested a local and prominent businessman, with a solid reputation, who’s been in this town for decades.”
The I-TEAM asked, “Are you saying prominent members of Burke County get special treatment?”
Sheriff Williams: “My intentions were nothing more than to allow him to deal with his son’s emergency that night. Otherwise, I would not have been involved.”
“To purport that one has to have a certain status to get assistance from my office as Sheriff is just asinine,” Sheriff Williams wrote.
The I-TEAM found Flakes donated to Alfonzo Williams’ campaign for sheriff.
As for the home at the center of this, Flakes no longer owns it.
Just four months after he bought it, he sold it to Eddie Taylor for only $50,000. Flakes doubled his investment, and, at more than $20-thousand dollars under fair market value, Taylor got the home for a bargain.
HOME SALE DOCUMENTS:
The I-TEAM checked, and Eddie Taylor contributed thousands of dollars to Sheriff Williams’ campaign.
Who we couldn’t find donated to the sheriff’s campaign?
He sat in jail for 23 days before he was able to bond out.
Sheriff Williams tells us he “investigated this matter (allegations Nunn and Flakes exploited an elderly woman out of her home) prior to the city police being involved and did not find sufficient probable cause for an arrest.” However, when the I-TEAM sent an open records request for the sheriff’s investigation, he said it was a “preliminary investigation” and he just made a “few calls.”
What he never gave us an answer about though: “where a Georgia county sheriff is permitted to release a felony suspect after his/her arrest but prior to his/her booking.”
We asked three times. Underlined. In bold text. Highlighted in yellow.
That question was difficult to overlook, just like how one man was arrested, booked, photographed, and spent weeks in jail, while Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams allowed the co-defendant, Gary Flakes, Jr., out with no record, beyond body cam, that he was ever there at all.
An FBI agent did tell the I-TEAM the FBI is “aware of these allegations.”
The I-TEAM spoke with Gary Flakes Jr., but he says his lawyer advised him not to talk. We were unable to reach Daniel Nunn.
As for Eddie Taylor, documents show he first tried to evict the elderly woman after he bought her home. Now, he’s suing her for back rent.
He was scheduled to be in Magistrate Court tomorrow, but late this afternoon, a judge agreed this case be moved to Superior Court where the woman will be represented by a guardian ad litem because of her “diminished capacity.”
The I-TEAM, of course, will continue to follow this case very closely.
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