Jail break plans foiled

Jason Clark

Jason Clark

LAWRENCEVILLE -- A scheme to boost a Norcross convict from a South Georgia jail was thwarted when authorities found weapons and survival gear in his girlfriend's vehicle during a traffic stop, an official said.

Recently sentenced in Gwinnett to three decades in prison, Jason Clark, 30, had been transferred to the Pelham City Jail near the Florida border to be housed until bed space opened up at a state prison.

Last weekend, police in nearby Camilla stopped a suspicious vehicle and encountered his girlfriend, Tamah Wallace, 24, of East Point, and their 1-year-old son.

Also in the vehicle was an AK-47 assault rifle, a .45 caliber pistol and numerous items for surviving in the wilderness, said Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Stacey Bourbonnais.

Further investigation led police to phone recordings between Clark and Wallace at the Pelham jail, where he had just been relocated. In those conversations, police learned Wallace had planned to spring her condemned beau from jail, Bourbonnais said.

According to police records, Wallace's outcries to police that Clark had been violent toward her and her mother landed him in jail in the first place.

Wallace, Clark and her mother had shared a home in Norcross, where she called police last September to report the abuse. In the home, police found marijuana plants and two guns similar to those Wallace was allegedly caught with this week, a Gwinnett police report states.

Wallace told investigators she had been in a relationship with Clark for years, but he had turned so controlling and possessive that she feared for her life.

Clark was sentenced to serve 30 years in prison last month on counts that included aggravated assault, false imprisonment and drug possession, among other crimes, stemming from the Gwinnett police arrest last year.

Now both are behind bars facing a bevy of new charges.

Additional charges against Clark include conspiracy to commit a crime of escape, criminal solicitation to commit a felony and criminal attempt to possess a firearm by a convicted felon.

Clark has been transferred back to the Gwinnett County Jail, where he's being held in maximum security, Bourbonnais said.

Wallace, who remains in the Pelham City Jail, is charged with conspiracy to aide the escape of another, possession of the tools for the commission of a crime and first-degree child cruelty, among other charges, Bourbonnais said.

The infant boy remains in Division of Family and Children Services custody.

Bourbonnais said Clark's route to state prison is a common one, in the face of budget restrictions that have forced state prisons to close.

Gwinnett County recently entered an agreement with the Pelham City Jail to house sentenced inmates at a rate of $22.50 per day -- the same amount the county is reimbursed by the state to house inmates awaiting space in Georgia prisons.

"Inmates are backing up in county jails due to lack of bed space," Bourbonnais said.

The local Sheriff's Department lacks the staff required to open additional housing units at the jail that sit vacant, Bourbonnais said. The Gwinnett jail has 211 inmates awaiting transfer to prisons, with 93 of them in Pelham.