Former Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Chief Willie Lovett Indicted on Extortion, Gambling, and Obstruction Charges
SAVANNAH, GA—Former Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police (SCMPD) Chief Willie Clinton Lovett, 65, was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury sitting in Savannah on charges of extortion, participating in an illegal gambling operation, and conspiring to obstruct the enforcement of state criminal laws. Two other defendants, Randall Wayne Roach and Kenny Amos Blount, were also charged in the superseding indictment with running an illegal gambling business and with conspiring with Lovett to obstruct the enforcement of Georgia gambling laws. A fourth defendant, Randall Wayne Roach, Jr., was charged with participating in an illegal gambling business.
According to the allegations contained in the superseding indictment, since 2004, Roach, Blount, Roach, Jr., and others would operate an illegal gambling business in Savannah during holiday celebrations, such as St. Patrick’s Day, and other events. The illegal gambling business would operate in violation of Georgia gambling laws but free from law enforcement intervention. As a major and then chief of SCMPD (formerly the Savannah Police Department), Lovett extorted cash payments from Roach and others. In return, Lovett provided protection to the illegal gambling business against enforcement of Georgia gambling laws. The superseding indictment alleges that in 2013, Lovett received cash payments on five separate occasions in exchange for protection against the enforcement of the criminal gambling laws of the State of Georgia, which payments came from the proceeds of the illegal gambling business.
Roach, Roach, Jr., Blount, and Lovett each face a maximum sentence of five years in prison, $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release on the commercial gambling charge. Lovett, Roach, and Blount also face a maximum sentence of five years in prison, $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release on the conspiracy to obstruct the enforcement of state criminal laws charge. Lovett faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release on each of the five extortion charges. An indictment is only an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case was investigated by the FBI. First Assistant United States Attorney James D. Durham and Assistant United States Attorney R. Brian Tanner are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States. Any questions should be directed to Mr. Durham at (912) 201-2547.