Georgia business owner accused of staging racially motivated robbery

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LAWRENCEVILLE — A local business owner is facing criminal charges after police say he destroyed his business in an attempt to make it look like a burglary.

According to police, 31-year-old Edawn Louis Coughman was arrested during the early morning hours of Thursday, Sept. 12 and booked into the Gwinnett County Jail. 

He has been charged with False Report of a Crime, Insurance Fraud, and Concealing a License Plate. Coughman has since bonded out of jail.

Shortly before 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, officers were dispatched to a “Burglary in Progress” call at the Create and Bake Restaurant and Coughman’s Creamery at 1956 Duluth Highway in unincorporated Lawrenceville. 

The caller said that a suspect was inside damaging the businesses. The witness told the 911 call-taker that the suspect was driving a black Chevrolet Silverado with no license plate.

Officers saturated the area and located the truck leaving the shopping center. The officers made contact with the driver, Edawn Louis Coughman. The officers noticed several televisions in the bed of the truck and inside the cab. The TVs were still attached to the brackets with damaged drywall. 

Officers on the scene learned that Edawn was the owner of the businesses that had been burglarized. The back door to one of the businesses had yellow pry marks. When officers went inside the business, they saw several graffiti words and symbols on the walls and booth cushions in black spray paint. 

Officers saw racially-motivated words, swastikas, and “MAGA.” Several booth cushions were sliced open. They also found broken mirrors, cut wires, and a damaged video surveillance system. The smell of spray paint was very fresh.  When officers touched it, the paint appeared wet.

Edawn told officers that he noticed the damage and theft of equipment earlier in the day. He said that he called his insurance company to report the incident, but he did not call 911. 

“After doing more research into the incident, officers and the lead detective learned that the damage to the interior of the business did not occur earlier in the day like he stated,” said Michele Pihera, Gwinnett Police Dept. Spokesperson.

Edawn was arrested, and the truck was impounded to Gwinnett County Police Headquarters for processing.

On Thursday afternoon, the Burglary Unit and Crime Scene Unit executed a search warrant on the truck. As a result of the search, they located a yellow crow bar and cans of black spray paint.

“It appears as though Edawn conjured a premeditated plan to damage his own property, attempt to make it appear as a hate crime, file a claim with his insurance company, and sell off the undamaged appliances and electronics,” Pihera said.

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