Valdosta Daily Times

October 27, 2012

Man pleads guilty to charges connected with theft ring

Quinten Plummer
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Faced with charges surrounding the theft of firearms and all-terrain vehicles from North Georgia and South Florida residences and interstate transport of the stolen goods to a re-seller, a Valdosta man entered guilty pleas when he appeared in federal court this week.

Robert Kier Jr., 30, pleaded guilty to one count of possession of stolen firearms and one count of possession of stolen goods, valued at more than $5,000, and moved interstate, according to court officials.

Kier confessed to stealing a Shearwater boat in Marion County, Fla., back in October 2010, and selling the watercraft in Coffee County, Ga., for $3,000, according to a co-defendant.

Kier admitted to stealing 23 weapons during two burglaries in Echols County between October and November 2010; some of the stolen goods were recovered after a co-conspirator attempted to sell them in Coffee County and in Florida. The stolen goods included rifles, shotguns, handguns and three all-terrain vehicles which were found in Florida in a trailer that had been stolen from Lanier County, according to court records.

Kier confessed to stealing a Ford truck in Madison County, Fla., on Christmas Day 2011. The truck was recovered in Lowndes County after it had been involved in a wreck.

Kier’s co-defendants entered guilty pleas earlier this year. Cedric Bell, 36, of Valdosta, had been with Kier during a burglary and several transactions between Kier and Troy Sirmans, 46, of Wray, according to the U.S. Attorney of the Middle District of Georgia’s office.

During Bell’s plea hearing, he said he protested one of the burglaries but admitted to never speaking up to law enforcement. Bell stated that he wasn’t present at every transaction between Kier and Sirmans, but he estimated he witnessed the exchanges of roughly $200,000 in guns, trailers, lawn equipment and all-terrain vehicles, according to records.

Sentencing hasn’t been scheduled yet, but each count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, a maximum fine of $250,000, and three years supervised release.

The case was investigated by the Echols County Sheriff’s Office with cooperation from the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, the Madison County, Fla., Sheriff’s Office, Marion County Sheriff’s Office and several other South Georgia and North Florida law-enforcement agencies.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert D. McCuller prosecuted the case before Senior U.S. District Judge Hugh Lawson.