Ray City Man Led Cattle Rustling Ring in 1950

As a young man William Wallace  “Buddy” Dampier, of Ray City, GA was the ringleader of a gang of cattle rustlers that operated in Berrien, Clinch and Lanier counties. The gang was busted and tried in all three counties in 1950. A report on the case appeared in the March 10, 1950 edition of the Clinch County News.

Clinch County News
March 10, 1950

Rustling Ring Pled Guilty Here


Eight members of a cattle rustling ring which had been accused of operating in Berrien, Clinch and Lanier counties entered pleas of guilty in Clinch Superior Court here on Tuesday.  The “ring” had been apprehended by the sheriffs of the three counties, including Sheriff Wooten of Clinch.
   Seven of the men had been sentenced in Lanier Superior Court last week. The eighth, James Dupree, 35, the oldest, was not indicted in Lanier County.
    Dupree pled guilty to accessory after the fact, having been charged with hauling one of the cows which he claimed he did without knowledge at the time that it was stolen property.
    The others were Talmadge Chaney and Hubert Chaney of Berrien county, W. W. “Buddy” Dampier of Ray City, and three minors.  All the defendants who were implicated in stealing cattle in Clinch pled guilty after an understanding was reached by attorneys representing the defendants with the approval of Sol. Gen. Edward Parrish, Sheriff Wooten, the GBI agent, and with the approval of the Grand Jury, that they receive the same punishment or penalty as in Lanier county.
  Only defendant actually tried by a jury in Lanier county was W. W. Dampier, allegedly to have been leader of the ring, and the Lanier jury which tried his case fixed his penalty at not less than two years nor more than two years with recommendation he be sentenced as for a misdemeanor.  Judge Smith ignored this recommendation which under the law resulted in a two-year sentence to the penitentiary as fixed by the jury.
    The Court authorities agreed that it would be unfair to inflict a greater penalty on the other defendants wo either confessed or pled guilty, than that imposed upon W. W. Dampier by the jury in his case.
    Under the law as it now stands, the jury fixes the maximum and minimum penalty in their verdict by which the judge is bound in felony cases, and the sentence cannot exceed the number of years fixed in the verdict by the jury.
    All of the defendants except W. W. Dampier and Dupree were less than 21 years of age. Three of them were 17.  Officials of the Court expressed hope that when they have served their sentences imposed in Lanier county that they will see the error of their ways and will come out and make good citizens, and this hope is concurred in by people generally throughout the three counties.   “If they make good prisoners and go straight, their sentences in other counties will be suspended as long as they go straight and violate no law,” Judge Smith said.
    W. W. Dampier and Talmadge Chaney received straight two-year sentences.  Other defendants, except Dupree, were given two-year sentences with six months suspended each on account of the fact that they either pled guilty or confessed or turned state’s evidence.  Dupree was sentenced to 18 months with 6 mounts suspended on good behavior. 
    Seven of the men now face trial in Berrien county on similar charges.  It was indicated that there may be other  persons involved in the case by the time it is called during the May term.

William Wallace Dampier was  born June 25, 1929 in Berrien County, Georgia. He was a son of  William Henry Dampier. William Wallace Dampier died March 29, 1975 in Berrien County, GA.

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