Through the Freedom of Information Act, Fox 28 has obtained the juvenile court records on two of the nine defendants charged in a 71 count racketeering ring.
Jamie Christopher Ellis’ history began in 2013 through 2017 with charges including fraud, theft and aggravated assault.
James Hill’s history in juvenile court dates back to 2015 through 2018 with charges ranging from theft, burglary and aggravated assault.
Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap said this is happening all too often.
“Many times we see them as juveniles stealing cars, burglarizing houses and then they commit the crimes when they become adults,” she said.
Mike Schiavone is an attorney who has represented a number of juvenile cases in Chatham County,
“The whole concept of juvenile law is trying to rehabilitate a child,” he said.
Schiavone said to understand juvenile crime you have to look into the background of the juvenile to search for answers.
”What you are going to find is that there has been a history of lack of discipline, lack of understanding authority,” he said.
Heap credits the year long investigation led by Savannah Police in the recent racketeering case that nabbed nine people.
“They realized that a series of crimes were occurring and they worked really hard at this and a huge shout out goes to them,” she said.
She said it is the coordinated effort that will help reduce violent crime in Savannah.
“The collaboration between the District Attorney’s office and law enforcement, that’s how you are going to attack crime,” she said.
Through a recently obtained federal grant, the district attorney’s office has a new weapon to fight violent crime, specifically gun violence.
Tim Ruffini is that weapon. He has been with the District Attorney’s office for more than 10 years but has just assumed the new role of gun prosecutor.
Ruffini, an assistant district attorney, will now work closely with law enforcement in targeting gun violence.
“It helps me to be able to help them, to know where they need to go so that when we get the evidence, when we get speech warrants back, we know that everything was done properly that we have a good solid case and at that point if we have a good solid case, we can go for a real good sentence on that individual,” he said.