The director of Columbus’ youth detention center was among 15 people arrested Sunday morning as police raided a poker game inside a Buena Vista Road Beauty Salon, authorities confirmed Monday.
Jimmie Lee Hooks III, 31, director of the Aaron Cohn Regional Youth Detention Center, was charged with gambling, a misdemeanor, according to police. He was arrested about 4:45 a.m. Sunday when officers raided Itha’s Beauty Salon at 4216 Buena Vista Road, where they found several people inside playing poker for money, they said.
The business’ owner, Tony Spratt, 42, was charged with commercial gambling, possessing alcohol for sale without a license, and violating the Georgia Controlled Substances Act by possessing about $50 worth of crack cocaine, police said.
Also arrested was Joseph Keith Foster, 53, who was executive director of the Community Alliance, an organization associated with the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department’s Innovative Sports Program and its Blazers sports teams. A police investigation into that program resulted last week in the arrests of Parks and Recreation Director Tony Adams and recreation specialist Herman Porter.
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Foster, who like Hooks also was charged with misdemeanor gambling, reportedly was a Blazers volunteer coach. He headed a meeting of parents and participants in that program at Shirley Winston Park on May 24, soon after an internal city audit raised questions about Parks and Rec operations and financial controls. That audit led to the Parks and Rec police investigation, which continues.
Foster was not on the city payroll, according to Columbus Human Resources Director Tom Barron.
Hooks has been with the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice since Jan. 16, 2001, and became director of the 7700 Chattsworth Road detention center on March 16 of this year, according to Scheree Moore, the department’s director of communications. She said Hooks has been placed on leave, with pay, as department investigators probe the circumstances of his arrest.
Besides Muscogee, the detention center in Columbus’ Midland area serves 12 other counties: Chattahoochee, Harris, Marion, Macon, Meriwether, Schley, Stewart, Talbot, Taylor, Troup, Pike and Webster. The center has a capacity of 48 males and 16 females.
According to a department web page, the center “provides temporary, secure care and supervision to youths who are charged with crimes or who have been found guilty of crimes and are awaiting disposition of their cases by a juvenile court. Additionally, youths committed to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice are frequently held in secure detention while awaiting placement in one of DJJ's treatment programs or facilities.”
Foster, the volunteer Blazers coach, over the past decade headed a nonprofit called Renaissance Personal Development Program, providing at-risk youth tutoring, mentoring and other services. According to records filed with the Georgia Secretary of State, the nonprofit was incorporated in June 2000, and it was dissolved May 16, 2008, for failing to pay its renewal fee.