ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

GRAY, Ga. (AP) -- The head of a Georgia state agency quietly resigned after he was arrested and charged with shoplifting from a hardware store.

The Athens Banner-Herald obtained former Georgia Forestry Commission director Chuck Williams' resignation letter dated Aug. 14 as well as the police report written after his arrest Aug. 13. The agency made no mention of Williams' departure when it announced last month that Gov. Brian Kemp had appointed an interim director.

A former state legislator from Watkinsville, 64-year-old Williams had led the state Forestry Commission since 2017. The agency is tasked with helping manage Georgia's vast forestland and fighting wildfires. It has more than 600 employees and an annual budget exceeding $50 million.

The state paid Williams a salary of $165,000.

According to a police report, a security camera at a hardware store in northeast Georgia recorded Williams switching price tags on a pair of saws on Aug. 12. He then used a credit card to buy the more expensive saw -- valued at $109.99 -- for the cheaper saw's price of $55.99, the report said.

The cashier told police Williams got into in an SUV with the Forestry Commission's logo on the door when he drove away from the store in Gray, a small city 75 miles (120 kilometers) south of Athens.

Williams returned to the store the next day to speak to the manager, the report said. Police were called and arrested him on a misdemeanor charge of shoplifting.

An officer wrote in the report that Williams admitted to switching the price tags and that "he had done such things in the past and does it for the thrill."

Williams did not immediately return a phone message left at his home Tuesday by The Associated Press.

Forestry Commission spokeswoman Wendy Burnett confirmed Tuesday that Williams resigned Aug. 14. Nearly four weeks later, on Sept. 10, the agency announced that Kemp had appointed the commission's deputy director, Gary White, to serve as interim director.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT