District Attorney's Office


Conasauga Judicial Circuit of Georgia

   Serving Murray & Whitfield Counties


October 5, 2018 (Chatsworth) – John Patrick Donovan (60), formerly of 2803 Bent Pine Dr, Ft. Pierce, FL 34951, was convicted Thursday evening by a Murray County Jury of two counts of cargo theft. The jury of 7 men and 5 women was selected on Monday and began hearing evidence on Tuesday morning. The jury heard from eleven witnesses for the State, including two Special Agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) Major Theft Unit, two Police investigators from the Brownsville (Texas) Police Department (BPD), and Andy Dill formerly of the Murray County Sheriff’s Office. After hearing from the State’s witnesses and one witness testifying live-streaming via FaceBook for the Defendant, they deliberated on Thursday, late afternoon for two and a half hours before returning a unanimous verdict on both counts at 7:00p.m. The trial was presided over by Superior Court Judge William T. Boyett and prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Dixon Lackey with assistance from GBI Special Agent Chelsea Stewart the lead investigator on the case. District Attorney Investigator Kevin Caylor and Senior Victim Advocate Danielle Kean were invaluable preparing the case for trial and assuring the attendance of witnesses from several states. Donovan represented himself at the trial with Andrew Powell of the Public Defender’s Office assisting him at Judge Boyett’s direction.

The case began December 31, 2016 when a semitrailer belonging to Sierra Transportation was stolen along with its cargo of over $160,000 worth of carpet from Mohawk Industries. The trailer without its cargo was located January 19, 2017 illegally parked in Brownsville Texas along the United States---Mexico border. All of the vehicle identification information was removed from the semitrailer, and it was attached to a tractor that had been stolen from Kansas December 26, 2016. The BPD investigator, Michael Parker, identified the trailer as belonging to Sierra Transportation through the refrigeration unit attached to it and the manufacturer of the gas tank. In the cab of the tractor, Parker located a pill bottle in Donovan’s name and bills of sale for the tractor and semitrailer, both dated January 10, 2017. Without identifying himself, Donovan called the BPD three times to find out where the truck and trailer had been towed. The phone Donovan used for the calls, was one he purchased at the Walmart Supercenter in Atalla, AL on January 2, 1017. Toni Smith, with Asset Protection for the Walmart, secured the surveillance footage of Donovan purchasing the telephone and and an RCA tablet at the store and leaving in a tractor-trailer. Donovan had four cellphones in his possession when he was arrested by GBI agents March 22, 2017 at Fulton County Airport west of Atlanta. The data from this phone and for two others in Donovan’s possession when he was arrested were analyzed by GBI Special Agent Graham Rusk, and showed Donovan had called Sierra Transportation twice on December 30, 2016,had canceled a reservation he made at the Hampton Inn in Dalton for December 31, 2016, and made numerous calls to Donovan’s mother. The phone records also established that Donovan was in the general area around the time of the theft.

Judge Boyett set sentencing for November 14, 2018 when Donovan faces up to 20 years imprisonment for each count and a minimum fine of at least $50,000 on each count. Donovan has prior felony convictions from Alabama, Kentucky, and Florida which the State plans to present in evidence at the sentencing hearing.

Bert Poston
District Attorney
Conasauga Judicial Circuit

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Bert Poston,
District Attorney

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