Oconee County deputies investigating report of thefts at Watkinsville store

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a nearly $100,000 theft at a Watkinsville store.

The thefts came to light at an Aug. 31 meeting of The Stone Stores’ board of directors, when the vice president was accused of appropriating money from the company for his personal gain, according to a sheriff’s report filed this week.

During the meeting, this official was fired and ordered to return the company’s property and money. The ex-vice president then said, “You wanna play dirty? I can play dirty,” according to the report.

A member of the board told a deputy that the 58-year-old suspect left the meeting at 3:15 p.m. and went to Oconee State Bank in Watkinsville, where he withdrew $98,000 in company funds and left just $1 in the account.

A Stone Store director went to the bank when the meeting adjourned and discovered the account “had been cleaned out.”

The complainant told a deputy that the board believes the former executive stole a lot more money during the past 14 years as the directors had been refused access to the financial books, which were under the control of the suspect and his wife.

An investigator was assigned to the case, Oconee Chief Deputy Lee Weems said.

“If he is no longer an officer of the corporation, and he knew that and he goes and takes the funds, that is not a civil matter, that’s criminal,” Weems said.

“It will be a detailed paper chase and that will involve an audit,” Weens said of the investigation.

No charges have been filed against the suspect or his wife, who live in Greene County.

The Stone Store was started in 1991 by businessman Jack Curtis, who died a year ago.