James "K.K." Ausbon, general manager of Mega Cast in Pembroke and candidate for Candler County Sheriff, was arrested last week and charged with theft by taking.
The charges were initiated by Mega Cast – a division of the national concrete manufacturer Old Castle Precast. A representative of the Pembroke office confirmed that Ausbon had been terminated, but Old Castle Chief Operations Officer Robert Thornton would not comment on the charges.
The matter is currently being investigated by the GBI. Attempts to reach the Statesboro GBI office concerning this case were unsuccessful.
Ausbon turned himself in on Aug. 18 and was released within hours after posting a $5,000 bond. Ausbon has acquired the services of Richmond Hill attorney Lloyd Murray to defend him at the slated grand jury appearance on Nov. 8.
Before that, though, the election to decide Candler County Sheriff takes place Nov. 4. Ausbon is running against longtime sheriff Homer Bell, who has been in office for 28 years, and Ausbon said he has no plans to drop out of the race.
"The people in Candler are ready for a change," Ausbon said.
He also said he is not a thief, and the charges against him pertain to company credit card use involving a card that bears his name. He said there are three different charges, including one that involves tires for his truck being purchased.
"I broke company policy," Ausbon said. "Before I left, I tried to make restitution. Why law enforcement was involved, I have no idea. I started this company (Mega Cast) from the ground up. It’s unethical what they’re doing."
Ausbon started up Mega Cast, which was bought by Old Castle Precast in 2002. Following the acquisition, Ausbon remained employed as the general manager of the Pembroke facility.
Besides the Mega Cast incident, Ausbon said many other strange events have occurred during his campaign, and he has filed police reports to document each incident.
"At least 50 campaign signs have been stolen. My own sign in front of my house was shot with a shotgun. My campaign manager’s lug nuts were loosened – I mean, someone could have been killed."
Ausbon said he is persistent in the race because of a higher calling.
"There’s a reason I’ve chosen to give up a $160,000 job for a $50,000 one, and that’s only because I’m being directed by Jesus," Ausbon said. "Whether I win or lose, I feel like I’m supposed to run for this office."
Ausbon said he believes, after seven months of campaigning, he was a shoe-in before the arrest, but the race is now an uphill battle.
Meanwhile, he said he is hopeful that the Pembroke community will not look at him in a negative light despite his recent arrest.
"I want to thank everyone in Bryan County for the support of my business through the years," he said. "I don’t want anyone to think any less of me for having an arrest on my record. The people of Pembroke know K.K. They know I’m not a thief. Heck, in all my 42 years, the only thing besides this on my record is one speeding ticket."