Former Suffolk business man accused of lying to police, prompting Ebola scare in Georgia

Posted at 6:28 PM, Oct 14, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-15 06:32:43-04

Suffolk, Va. (WTKR) - A Suffolk man is facing charges of making false statements following an Ebola scare at an Atlanta-area jail and hospital.

Harry Randall Withers (Courtesy Cobb County Sheriff's Office)

35-year-old Harry Randall Withers Jr. was arrested in Cobb County, Georgia on October 3, on misdemeanor charges of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and Failure to Maintain Lane.

The Cobb County Sheriff's Office tells NewsChannel 3 that while being booked at the jail, Withers was displaying "flu-like" symptoms and told medical staff that he had traveled to Africa in the past few weeks.

Withers was then isolated at the jail before being transported to a hospital in a specially-equipped ambulance where an Ebola test came back negative, according to Cobb County officials.

Cobb County Sheriff deputies checked into Withers' travel history and discovered he had not left the country as claimed.

Subsequently, Withers was charged with three felony counts of giving false statements.

In Downtown Suffolk, Withers is better known as Randy Withers, former owner of a now-closed wine store on West Washington Street.

Tonya Wylie is a stylist at Serendipity Hair Salon next door.

"I used to cut his hair and he used to come in here and joke with us all the time," Wylie recalls.

Former longtime Suffolk Mayor and downtown businessman Andy Damiani remembers how the wine shop was a destination for many in Suffolk.

"Randy opened it up and he did real well – it was like gangbusters you know, so we were really pleased at his presence," Damiani recalled.

He was floored to learn of the charges Withers now faces.

"I can’t believe anybody would make up a story about that. I don’t know. I was surprised, I was surprised."

As of Tuesday, the Cobb County Sheriff's Office tells NewsChannel 3 that Withers remains in jail in Georgia.

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