By Patti Dozier



THOMASVILLE -- It isn't mistaken identity, but collusion.

That's the conclusion Thomas County Sheriff Carlton Powell reached on the confusing episode that began here in December 2002 and continues 14 months later with two fugitives and two forfeited bonds totaling close to $400,000.

Qiang Lin and Jian Ming Huang were charged in late 2002 with a number of counts of credit card fraud and theft by deception in a Thomas County flimflam.

They were released on bonds of $180,000 each in early 2003. The suspects did not show for scheduled court appearances, according to testimony by the sheriff and others at a Jan. 15 Superior Court hearing.

Gary Cooper, owner of the company that backed the bonds, contends the men did not receive appropriate notice of the court dates.

Judge Richard Cowart said at the end of the hearing he would rule in a few days. He still had not ruled Wednesday.

"We're trusting the judge is going to rule in their (the state's) favor, that sufficient (court appearance) notice was given," Powell said.

The day before the Lin hearing, a man arrested in Columbus, Ohio, was said to be Huang. Local authorities have learned since the hearing the incarcerated man was not the suspect.

Huang, they said, stole the man's identity. Fingerprints of the man booked as Huang here did not match fingerprints of the person jailed in Ohio.

"We're looking for two people, and we're seeking the forfeiture of two bonds," said Powell, who thinks Lin and Huang are scheming to confuse lawmen.

"We're going to proceed with the second person whose fingerprints are in our case file," he said.

Jim Hardy, Southern Judicial Circuit chief assistant district attorney, said there is no doubt Huang's bond also has been forfeited.

"They've got to reopen the issue and get the facts before the judge," Hardy said.

He will request a second bond hearing, this time for the elusive Huang.

Powell testified in January -- and reiterated Tuesday -- that he cautioned an Express Bond and Collection Agency bondsman about posting bond for the suspects.

The sheriff has an edict: When a bond is due and not paid, the company that issued the bond cannot do business in Thomas County until the bond amount is satisfied.

Powell has been in local law enforcement for many years, but the $360,000 due is a first for him.

"In my 40 years, I've never had a bond this size," he said.

















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