DeKalb County man jailed for illegally storing and dumping old tires

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Christian Vick did not know her neighbor Samuel White would end up in the DeKalb County Jail over the growing mountain of tires at his property on Vicky Lane in southeast Atlanta. But she hopes it is the first step towards solving a problem that is compelled several neighbors off Gresham Road to lodge complaints with DeKalb County Code Enforcement in just the last two months.

“I hate to see anybody doing jail time, but I think you're getting your just desserts. If you make mistakes like this, you have to pay for your mistakes,” Vick, who's lived in the Gresham Park community for more than a decade, said. “The tires were stored under the house, in the carport, on the deck, everywhere. And there were way too many mosquitoes. We would go in our back yard and get bombarded.”

DeKalb County Code Enforcement Supervisor Jerry Silver said the property owner, Samuel White, was arrested Tuesday in DeKalb County Magistrate Court after pleading guilty to repeated code violations. Authorities said White was initially slated to pay a $200 fine, but investigators from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources had a warrant based on allegations White dumped 40,000 tires in Walton County. DeKalb County Police charged the 37-year-old man with illegal dumping of hazardous materials, which is a felony.

“What the gentleman told me was that he was trying to start a business where he would remove and recycle tires properly. But I told him it was never proper to store those tires here at his property. People need to understand the law because not knowing is not an excuse,” said Silver, who's been with Code Enforcement for 24 years.

White's family declined to comment on camera, but White's wife said White had already removed most of the tires before he went to court Tuesday and said the family was doing what they could to quickly remove the tires and clean up the property. She said he was planning to take the tires to a recycling facility in Alabama, but financial troubles got in the way.

"Storing tires at a residential property is a health hazard. With all the rain we've had, all the tires are just breeding grounds for mosquitoes. You can't store them, hide them or dump them. They must be taken to the appropriate facility for dumping," said Silver.

White is being held without bond in the DeKalb County Jail without bond. Department of Natural Resources investigators are still looking into the Walton County case that sparked his arrest in court. White has been ordered to remove the last of the tires on his property before his next August 4 court date.