Valdosta police solve five crimes -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Valdosta police solve five crimes

June 4, 2008

Valdosta - Valdosta police say they broke up a violent crime ring.

Three men and one woman are in jail.

They got caught after a botched kidnapping and extortion plot this week.

They're also now charged with robbing a bank and a restaurant in Valdosta and may be connected to crimes in southeast Georgia and in Florida.

Monday morning police arrested 22 year-old Andrew Holt and 24 year-old Gary Hillegass.

They are now charged with burglary, kidnapping, possession of a firearm and criminal intent to commit extortion.

Police say they forced their way into an apartment where 23 year-old Jason Pere, 24 year-old Amanda Cosgrove and 22 year-old Laura Mason were staying.

One of the men bound Mason with duct tape, put her in a car, and drove her to a bank.

He let her go and she called police.  "As the Valdosta Police Department investigators began to look at the crime, they discovered there was more on their hands then just kidnapping," says Lt. Bobbi McGraw.

An investigation uncovered that Cosgrove was not a victim at all. In fact she was an active part of the extortion plot.

"Ms. Cosgrove was familiar with the true victims of the incident, there fore it was not a random act of violence," McGraw adds.

Police say further questioning revealed that Holt, Cosgrove and 37 year-old Matthew Black were responsible for the May 15th holdup of the Bank of Valdosta and the April armed robbery of Domino's Pizza.

Black, who is also wanted for parole violations in Florida, was arrested Monday afternoon. He's Holt's half brother and is romantically involved with Cosgrove.

FBI in Brunswick say that trio is also believed to be responsible for the May 9th heist of the Southeastern Bank in Brantley County.

Police say the investigation is not over yet.  They say the team may be responsible for other crimes around the region.


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