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Forsyth ambulance official charged in child sex sting

CUMMING -- An official with the company that provides ambulance services in Forsyth County was among more than a dozen suspects arrested over the weekend during an undercover child sex sting.

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, 58-year-old J.B. Owen of Canton was arrested during Operation Broken Heart, which resulted in charges against 14 men from across north Georgia who intended to meet a child for sex.

Others charged in the case include an elementary school principal from Villa Rica, a software developer, engineer and musician.

Owen was the vice president and general manager of Advanced Ambulance Service, which has held Forsyth’s ambulance contract since 2008. In a statement Monday, company President Stan Rutledge said Owen was “immediately placed on administrative leave when the company learned of the arrest. Owen has since submitted his resignation, which was accepted.”

Rutledge said the company will fully cooperate with authorities. He also reached out Sunday to the Forsyth County Fire Department.

“Mr. Rutledge has been very forthcoming on the issue and informed us midmorning on Monday that he had accepted a resignation from Mr. Owen,” said Fire Division Chief Jason Shivers.

“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.”

According to a statement from the GBI, nearly 40 law enforcement agencies participated in the four-day operation with the bureau’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit and the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

The goal of the effort, which involved months of planning, was to arrest people “who communicate with children online and then travel to meet them for the purpose of having sex.”

“Online child predators visit chat rooms and websites on the internet, find children, begin conversations with them, introduce sexual content and arrange a meeting with the children for the purpose for having sex,” the statement said. “The proactive on-line investigation was a coordinated effort among all the law enforcement agencies to combat this activity.”