published Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Northwest Georgia man sentenced in gun carjacking — and more Chattanooga region news

Northwest Georgia man sentenced in gun carjacking

ROME, Ga. — Federal prosecutors say a Northwest Georgia man has been sentenced to more than 17 years in an armed carjacking.

Authorities say 31-year-old Rodney Scott Blankenship has been sentenced to 17 years and four months in prison for carjacking a woman and her boyfriend at gunpoint Aug. 31, 2012.

Blankenship pointed his gun at the victim's boyfriend and pulled the trigger twice. Officials say Blankenship's gun failed to discharge.

Authorities say Blankenship fled in the woman's car, led police on a pursuit and rammed a Cedartown police patrol car during his attempted escape. He later crashed the car and was arrested after trying to run from officers.


Man charged in I-59 assault

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Sheriff's officials in Alabama say they've apprehended a suspect in Georgia after a sexual assault along Interstate 59.

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office said deputies responded to a reported assault near mile marker 117 in the Birmingham area on April 23.

The 34-year-old woman told deputies her car broke down, and a passing motorist in a white van stopped to help. She said he later sexually assaulted her, took her money and cell phone and left her on the roadside.

Sheriff's officials say a description of the suspect sent to law enforcement agencies across the Southeast led them to 21-year-old-Malachi Josephus Moody of Jackson, Miss., who was taken into custody in Georgia.

Moody is charged with first-degree rape and first-degree sodomy.


Jury seated in Donnan trial

ATHENS, Ga. — A jury has been seated in the trial of former University of Georgia football coach Jim Donnan, who's accused of running a pyramid scheme using relationships of trust to lure investors.

The jury was selected Tuesday.

A federal indictment charged Donnan and another man with conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud. Prosecutors have said the pair ran the scheme through GLC Limited, Inc., a West Virginia-based company that dealt in closeout merchandise.

Authorities have said Donnan convinced high-profile college coaches and former players to invest $80 million in the company. The money from new investors was continually needed to pay the company's expenses and other investors.

The other man pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge last month, but Donnan has denied intentionally misleading investors.


Program to help prisoners launched

NASHVILLE — State prison officials are hoping a new program that connects offenders with faith-based organizations and other nonprofit organizations can help prisoners successfully re-enter society after they've served their time.

The Tennessee Department of Correction kicked off its new Take One Program this week during a prayer breakfast at the Christ United Methodist Church. It was the beginning of a statewide launch.

Take One is a collaboration among the prison system and churches, faith-based organizations and other nonprofits to help offenders transition back into society. The program encourages each organization to mentor an offender for one year.

The correction department says an estimated 90 percent of prisoners eventually will be released, and the program will encourage them to lead productive, crime-free lives when they get out.

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