EATONTON - A security guard group affiliated with action-adventure actor Wesley Snipes is interested in buying land in Putnam County to build a training facility.
The 257 acres adjoins the 476-acre village owned by the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors on Shady Dale Road west of Eatonton.
Snipes' production company, Amen-Ra films, owns The Royal Guard of Amen-Ra, the company planning to purchase the acreage, according to Snipes spokeswoman Justine Hah.
Hah, however, denies any connection between Snipes and the Nuwaubians.
But a Nuwaubian representative said Thursday that Snipes is one of many "millionaire Nuwaubians" planning to purchase property in Putnam County.
Al Woodall, an agent for the nine Nuwaubians who own the 476-acre village, said millionaire Nuwaubians are not only buying the 257 acres at 290 Shady Dale Road but also the village at 404 Shady Dale Road.
"(Snipes) is actually an avid Nuwaubian, at that," Woodall said. "What I'm hearing is there are a few Nuwaubian millionaires from the music industry, the movie industry, business, finance, different aspects - but they're all millionaires, including (Nuwaubian leader) Malachi York. And from what I'm hearing, (they) are planning on buying the property in Putnam County, including the 404 Shady Dale Road."
But Hah said Thursday she had never heard of the Nuwaubians.
"I don't even know how you spell that," she said. "Wesley is not affiliated with that group on any level, even remotely."
Hah also said it is "pure coincidence" that The Royal Guard of Amen-Ra, which bills itself on the Internet as "an international, multi-level security and protection company," is looking at a piece of property that adjoins the Nuwaubian village.
Hah refused to provide details about The Royal Guard of Amen-Ra, but she did confirm the group intends to build a training facility for private security guards.
The Royal Guard of Amen-Ra's posting on the Internet site "cooljobs.com" seeks 200 people for "an elite team of highly trained men and women who will provide the following services: International and domestic risk management; intelligence and protective operations; V.I.P./executive protection to dignitaries and celebrities; special event security; counter-surveillance and counter terrorist measures."
A representative of The Royal Guard of Amen-Ra used the 257-acre property's address - 290 Shady Dale Road - in December to file an application for a permit with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for the "purchase, movement, travel and storage of various weapons and ammunition nationwide to provide security, security guard and firearms training services."
Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said Wesley Rudy Snipes, who identified himself as Wesley Snipes' brother and a representative of The Royal Guard, came to his office in early November to talk to him about the group's plans for the property.
Rudy Snipes is listed as the CEO of The Royal Guard on its incorporation papers with the Georgia Secretary of State's office. He compared the proposed training center to the state Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth, Sills said.
"I had heard rumors about it, but I hadn't heard anything lately until yesterday, when I got a call from an inspector with the BATF," Sills said Tuesday. "He was following up on the application for a federal firearms dealer license that The Royal Guard of Amen-Ra, Inc., had applied for back in December."
Rudy Snipes signed the BATF application. The permit is pending, according to Sills.
In a letter Tuesday responding to the BATF investigator, Sills noted inaccuracies on The Royal Guard application:
Snipes certified that he had provided Sills with a copy of the BATF application, which Sills said he had not.
Snipes stated that the property identified as 290 Shady Dale Road is owned by The Royal Guard of Amen-Ra, but deeds indicate that S.M. Bishop Co., Inc., owns the property.
Snipes stated that The Royal Guard has obtained a business license to operate in Putnam County, but the county has not granted the company a license, according to Sills.
Snipes stated that the business has complied with state and local laws, but does not take into account that the property is zoned for agricultural purposes and "a for-profit security company and firearms dealer is certainly not an agricultural business," according to Sills. The property will have to be rezoned for commercial activity.
Atlanta developer Stan Bishop, who owns the 257 acres, said The Royal Guard approached him last year about possibly purchasing his property, but no deal has been struck.
Bishop has owned the acreage about two years. The Putnam County Tax Assessor's office values the property at $446,963. Bishop's parents live in one of two houses on the property, and Bishop hunts and fishes there.
Bishop discounted any link between The Royal Guard and the Nuwaubians and said he believes it's the Nuwaubians who are claiming a connection with Snipes.
"(The Royal Guard) approached a real estate agent that I know. They had no idea where this piece of property was," Bishop said. "We took them and showed them the property ... and they liked it. I think all this connection between them is a bunch of trumped up crap."
The Nuwaubians, a group of followers of Malachi York, moved to Putnam County in 1993. About 150 Nuwaubians live in the village and hundreds more live in surrounding communities of Athens, Eatonton, Sparta and Milledgeville.
The group has built pyramids and other Egyptian-type structures on a portion of the 476 acres. About 30 acres is zoned residential. The remainder is zoned for agriculture.
But about three years ago, the group began to have problems with county officials about zoning violations. For more than a year, the Nuwaubians and the County Commission have been involved in ongoing court battles about county zoning and building code violations.
The ongoing legal struggle with the county has prompted Snipes, Stevie Wonder and York to begin buying property in Putnam County, according to Woodall.
"These millionaires, Nuwaubian millionaires, are actually tired of what they've been reading, seeing and hearing about the ongoing battle in Putnam County with the officials," Woodall said. " ... So they're coming in with money, ready to go to court with the best lawyers, or whatever it takes to bring about justice," Woodall said.