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Cobb inmate pleads guilty to causing Ebola scare | Crime

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Cobb inmate pleads guilty to causing Ebola scare
Crime, Health, News
Cobb inmate pleads guilty to causing Ebola scare

COBB COUNTY, Ga. -- A Cobb County Jail inmate pleaded guilty this week to causing an Ebola scare after being pulled over for driving drunk.

In addition to misdemeanor charges of DUI and failure to maintain lane, 35-year-old Harry Randall Withers Jr. was convicted of three felony counts of making false statements.

Withers, of Suffolk, Va., was arrested Oct. 3. Upon arriving at the Cobb County Jail, he told a paramedic he had recently traveled to Nigeria and Kenya, and was experiencing symptoms of Ebola. He was taken to WellStar Kennestone Hospital, where the emergency room staff enacted containment precautions.

Cell phone records later showed Withers was in the U.S. when he claimed he was in Africa. The defendant had not left the country since 2005 and did not even have an active U.S. passport.

"We will not tolerate anyone manipulating the system like this and preying on our worst fears. When you put the country and law enforcement through such a useless exercise as this, we will find out the truth," Cobb County Deputy Chief ADA John Melvin said in court.

A judge sentenced Withers to 10 years, with one to serve. The sentence will be suspended if Withers completes a six-month inpatient drug rehabilitation program in Virginia.

Withers must also pay $10,000 in restitution to the Cobb County Sheriff's Office.

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