Two Charged With Theft of Services
Warrants for theft of services and theft by taking were issued on Monday, April 23, 2012, for the arrest of Rutledge Cafe owner, Harvey Rutledge and manager, Cleveland Rutledge, Jr. The criminal arrest warrants were presented to the Heard County Magistrate Court after an investigation was conducted by the Franklin Police Department and Atlanta Gas Light Company.
The investigation began nearly a month prior to arrest warrants being issued, when an employee of Atlanta Gas Light Company was performing field inspections and located a gas meter at Rutledge Café that did not have a serial number. During the inspection he detected a gas leak from an above ground line that connected the gas meter at Rutledge Café to a residence next door, belonging to Harvey Rutledge.
When the employee notified his office of the discovery, he was informed that the natural gas to the business had been disconnected by Atlanta Gas Light Company on January 6, 2009. He then notified his supervisor, who informed him to request the presence of law enforcement and that additional employees from Atlanta Gas Light Company would be responding to his location.
Officer Nikki Chapman of the Franklin Police Department met with representatives who provided her with the information regarding the theft of natural gas. After removing and examining the gas meter, Atlanta Gas Light Company employees informed law enforcement officers that the device had been stolen from Gwinnett County and modified to dispense undocumented natural gas to the business and residence. Officer Chapman was also informed that the locking mechanism that was placed on the gas line in 2009 had been tampered with to allow the valve to be placed in the open position.
This information was provided to Lieutenant Tino Brooks, who investigated the complaint, along with an investigator from Atlanta Gas Light Company. During the investigation Atlanta Gas Light Company provided an estimated theft amount of natural gas, which exceeded $3,000.00. This amount did not include the cost of the gas meter that was recovered but severely damaged due to modifications. Attempts to interview the two individuals during the investigation were declined.
Cleveland Rutledge, Jr. was attested at his residence during the afternoon hours on April 23rd. He was charged with one felony count of theft of services and one misdemeanor count of theft by receiving.
Harvey Rutledge turned himself in on Tuesday, April 24th after learning of the arrest warrants. He was also charged with one felony count of theft of services and one misdemeanor count of theft by receiving.
Both individuals have since posted bond and have been released from the Heard County Jail.