Police: Scam artist caught

LAWRENCEVILLE - A Lilburn man purporting himself to be a desperate father in need of children's medication was arrested Thursday on multiple theft charges, police said.

Michael Allen Buckner, 37, targeted residents of central and southeast Gwinnett during his door-to-door plea soliciting help for his fictitious child, police said.

Buckner is charged with five counts of theft by deception and a probation violation. He remained in the Gwinnett County Jail on Friday without bond.

No stranger to officers in south Gwinnett, Buckner allegedly begged residents of Lilburn, Stone Mountain and Lawrenceville for money over the last two months. Residents said the suspect introduced himself as "Chad" or "Mark" and asked for prescription money for his sick child. They later identified Buckner from a police line-up.

A lead detective was familiar with Buckner from a previous case, aware Buckner had no children and functioned mostly in the Gwinnett County Police Department's Southside Precinct, police said.

"Officers that work the area do have knowledge of who the troublemakers are," Gwinnett police spokesman Officer David Schiralli said. "He's been doing this same scam for a while, asking for money for gas or money for a fictitious child."

Jail records show Buckner has been arrested in Gwinnett 19 times, dating back to a December 2000 arrest for falsely reporting a crime.

This time, Buckner's alleged ploy wasn't directed at any group in particular, such as elderly residents, police said.

"He was targeting at random," Schiralli said.

Police said Buckner could face additional charges as more victims come forward.

Investigators ask anyone who gave money to Buckner to call the burglary unit at 770-495-3900.