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Badge and Bar: Case with missing co-defendant gets tentative court date

POSTED: September 11, 2013 11:16 p.m.
/For The Times

Jessie Joe LuJan

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Gainesville woman Ashley Richardson and Jessie Joe LuJan, 34, were arrested more than a year ago in the beating death of 25-year-old Devin Anthony Thomas.

Police said in June 2012 that Thomas, a day laborer from South Carolina, was found behind a building in the 1000 block of Athens Street at around 6:45 a.m. June 9. He later died at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

The indictment alleges that between June 8 and 9, the two beat Thomas in the head with a piece of concrete block in an effort to steal cash and marijuana from him.

Richardson, 24, was arrested in June, charged in August and indicted more than a year ago on Sept. 6. She pleaded not guilty to the charges of malice murder, two counts of felony murder, armed robbery and aggravated assault in October.

Nearly a year later, Richardson’s trial is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 23, but her case is still missing a certain component — the co-defendant.

LuJan, who was reportedly homeless at the time of the incident, skipped town after he was charged along with Richardson and has been missing since.

Gainesville police said they are still “actively searching” for LuJan.

He is described as a 200-pound, 5-foot-7-inch Hispanic man with dark brown hair and brown eyes and a tattoo of the Grim Reaper on his left arm.

Those who may have information about LuJan’s whereabouts can call the Gainesville Police Department Criminal Investigations Division at 770-534-5254 or the tip line at 770-533-5873.

Civil case against Buford man moving through federal court

A civil case against a Buford man, brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission in May, is moving forward in Atlanta’s Federal Court.

Blake B. Richards is alleged to have defrauded millions of dollars from at least seven mostly elderly investors, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Judge Julie Carnes issued an order that temporarily restrained Richards from further securities laws violations, froze Richards’ assets, prevented the destruction of documents and expedited discovery, the SEC said.

“The Commission’s complaint alleges that, since at least 2008, Richards, a registered representative of a broker dealer, misappropriated at least $2 million from at least seven investors. The majority of the misappropriated funds constituted retirement savings and/or life insurance proceeds from deceased spouses,” according to an SEC news release.

In its complaint, the commission alleged that Richards told investors to write out checks to companies he controlled, with the understanding that Richards would invest their funds — but none of these investments were ever made, according to the SEC.

“None of the investments appeared on the client’s brokerage account statements, and Richards received no commission income from these investments. The complaint further alleges that Richards siphoned off the funds entrusted to him for personal use,” the SEC said, in violation of anti-fraud provisions of federal securities laws.
On Aug. 12, without confirming or denying guilt, Richards agreed to a permanent injunction filed by the SEC that froze all his assets, and on Aug. 20 the order was signed.

Carnes ordered the SEC to open its investigative findings on Richards’ case Monday.

Emma Witman covers public safety issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with her:



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