By Joe Johnson
A Clarke County grand jury last week returned a 26-count indictment charging a Watkinsville man in a series of Athens vehicle break-ins in Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties in which he allegedly stole and fraudulently used bank cards.
Dusty Nathaniel Peppers, 29, of Carson Graves Road was charged with three counts of entering an automobile with the intent to commit a felony, five counts of financial transaction card theft, 16 counts of financial transaction card theft, and one count each of theft by taking and identity fraud, according to the indictment that was filed last Tuesday in Clarke County Superior Court.
According to Athens-Clarke County police, Peppers was recorded by a surveillance camera as he tried to use two bank cards to make a purchase at Target in Athens on March 22, the same day the cards were stolen from a vehicle at Oconee County High School.
One transaction for a $500 gift card was approved when the suspect used one of the stolen credit cards, but a second transaction with the other stolen card was declined, according to the report.
After an Oconee County sheriff’s investigator identified Peppers as the suspect in the high school theft case, an Athens-Clarke County detective identified Peppers as the person who used the stolen bank cards at Target on Atlanta Highway Target, according to police.
The detective subsequently took out warrants for the incident at Target and elsewhere, including at the University of Georgia where Peppers was suspected of stealing from a vehicle.
Additionally, the defendant’s 30-year-old wife, Amanda Savage Peppers, was arrested in April for allegedly trying to sell to an Athens pawn shop sunglasses that had been purchased with a stolen credit card, according to police.
An accusation was subsequently filed in Athens-Clarke County State Court charging her with misdemeanor theft by deception, according to court records.
The Peppers both remain free on bond while awaiting their arraignments – Amanda Peppers on Aug. 29 and Dusty Pepper on Sept. 23.