J. B. Owen, 58, was one of 14 people arrested as part of “Operation Broken Heart,” a four-day, undercover sting by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to crack down on predators who meet children online for sex, said Sherry Lang, GBI spokeswoman.
According to Lang, Owen and the other suspects, ranging in age from 21 to 64, traveled from all over north Georgia planning to meet a child to have sex, but instead met officers.
The spokeswoman could not immediately release the age of the child Owen allegedly thought he was meeting or the specific meeting place. The age ranges of the children the suspects agreed to meet under the undercover online operation ranged from 10 to 15, Lang said.
The operation involved nearly 40 police agencies and prosecutors from around north Georgia and also netted the arrests of an elementary school principal, an engineer and a musician, among other varied professionals, Lang said.
Owen was charged under the Computer Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act of 1999. He was booked into the DeKalb County jail at about 3:15 a.m. and posted $25,000 to be released Sunday night, according to the DeKalb jail.
A Cherokee Tribune column from 2011 identifies Owen as a member of a gospel music quartet and a religiously-minded person.
A message was left at Owen’s home asking for comment, but was not returned by press time.
Prior to his arrest, Owen served as vice president at the Advanced Ambulance Service, which works as the sole third-party contractor providing ambulance services for Forsyth County. Owen has since resigned from the company after being suspended when his employer found out about the arrest over the weekend, said Advanced Ambulance Service President Stan Rutledge.
Advanced Ambulance Service, which does business as Forsyth County EMS, has been that county’s sole provider of ambulance services since 2008, running seven units out of the county fire stations, said Forsyth Fire Division Chief Jason Shivers.
Shivers said the fire department had never received any complaints about Owen or any indication he’d be accused of such a crime.
As of Tuesday morning, Shivers said Forsyth County didn’t see a problem in keeping the company’s contract.
“At this time, there is no reason to believe that this incident will affect the level of service provided by Advanced Ambulance to Forsyth County,” he said in an emailed statement.
According to Owen’s LinkedIn profile, he had been with the company since 2007. He also attended Cherokee High School and Reinhardt College.