COVINGTON -- The Georgia Arson Control Program recently awarded a Covington man a check for $3,500 for the tips he gave authorities that led to the arrest and conviction of an arsonist.
When faced with the evidence, Andre Lamont Wayne of Gwinnett County pleaded guilty in October to the arson of his automobile in Covington on Jan. 22, 2011. Charges are pending against his wife Bianca Wayne.
"The information given by Buddy Gilbert was imperative to solving this case for the Covington Fire Department," said Capt. Tony Smith. "To have the tag number, vehicle description and a physical description of a possible suspect made this case very solvable."
In January of 2011, Gilbert was awakened in the early morning hours by his son, Cody, and told there was a woods fire in the back of their home. The two went to investigate and found that a vehicle was on fire. They called 911 and waited for CFD to respond.
"While waiting they observed another vehicle driving down the street," Smith explained. "Due to the time of morning, they followed and stopped the vehicle, thinking it was possibly the owner of the burning vehicle or a member of the fire department."
The person in the vehicle stated he had no knowledge of the vehicle on fire and drove on down the road another 200 feet.
"The Gilberts then saw an unknown person run from the woods and get into the vehicle. Before the vehicle could leave, Mr. Gilbert was able to obtain the license plate number," Smith said.
The Gilberts provided the authorities with the information and later Buddy Gilbert was able to pick the perpetrator from a photo lineup.
The Georgia Arson Control Program was formed in January 1979 by property and casualty insurers writing business in Georgia. GAC, with the cooperation of the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Insurance and Safety Fire and state and local law enforcement agencies, established an Arson Hotline (1-800-282-5804). A reward fund was initiated from which monetary rewards are given to individuals who come forward with information that results in the arrest and conviction of arsonists. The reward can be up to $10,000.