- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2000

Agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation yesterday searched the former offices of acting District of Columbia Fire Chief Ronnie Few and confiscated finance and purchasing records, the Augusta-Richmond County district attorney said.
The special grand jury that has investigated Chief Few since last year gave the GBI information that "established probable cause to believe that certain crimes had been committed by an employee, or employees, of the Richmond County Fire Department," District Attorney Danny Craig said in a written statement.
Armed with search warrants, GBI agents yesterday began seizing records from Augusta-Richmond County's Fire, Purchasing and Finance departments, Mr. Craig said.
"The search warrants include the authority to seize from the premises all evidence, including papers and computer data, that relates to the crimes … and any other evidence of criminal activity that comes to the attention of investigating agents," he said.
Mr. Craig's statement did not mention any suspects or targets by name.
Sources familiar with the investigation told The Washington Times that records of purchases and bank accounts controlled by Chief Few and his former public information officer, Katrice Bryant, were the focus of the search warrants.
Chief Few, who has headed the D.C. Fire Department since July 10, did not return calls seeking comment at his office and the fire department's public affairs office yesterday.
Augusta Mayor Bob Young yesterday said the grand jury "has been getting testimony now for 10 months, so this seems like a natural progression."
"I don't know much about it, and I don't want to know about it," Mr. Young added.
An official in the press office of D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who is attending the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, yesterday said the mayor continues to support Chief Few. "We feel confident he's the right guy," the official said.
D.C. Council member Harold Brazil, at-large Democrat and a member of the committee that selected Chief Few for his $130,000-a-year job in the city, said yesterday he did not know the details of the development in the investigation and could not comment.
Mr. Brazil, who complained in June that the search committee did not receive any information about the grand jury probe before selecting Chief Few, said the focus of the GBI's confiscation "could be anybody from the janitor all the way up to the top. It's hard to react to something like that."
The council's Judiciary Committee, headed by Mr. Brazil, has scheduled Chief Few's confirmation hearings to begin Wednesday.
The Times first reported in June that Chief Few is the subject of a special grand jury probe in Augusta.
The grand jury has an unlimited term, the first of its kind in the state, and is investigating corruption and mismanagement in the entire municipal government.
The grand jury is examining Chief Few's role in a number of areas:
Pay raises he made to Fire Department bureaucrats at the expense of rank-and-file firefighters.
Bidding and procurement activities.
A "media awards" account he improperly opened without authorization.
Costly cellular telephone bills that weren't paid prior to inquiries from the media.
Outstanding bills for a fire chiefs convention he organized.
Chief Few, who ran the Augusta-Richmond Fire Department for two years, defended the pay raises, saying administration-level employees were underpaid. He has said repeatedly he has been cleared in the various investigations.
When Mr. Williams announced Chief Few's appointment on June 2, Chief Few said he was no longer the subject of an investigation.
Less than a week later, Chief Few was called before the grand jury and handed over documents. A spokesman for the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department confirmed his appearance before the grand jury.

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