Judge orders Georgia sheriff to jail - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Judge orders Georgia sheriff to jail

Sheriff Bowens Sheriff Bowens

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –- Terrell County Sheriff John Bowens was sentenced to five days in jail for contempt of court, and ordered to pay a fine for ignoring a judge's order to bring inmates to court.  The Sheriff's attorney calls the ruling 'outlandish' and plans to appeal.

Judge Dane Perkins said he didn't find the Sheriff's testimony credible, that he intentionally and willfully violated a Judge's order.  The judge simply said it's the Sheriff's fault for failing to act legally to provide for his office.

Come Monday, Sheriff John Bowens could be on the other side of a jail cell, sentenced to serve five days in the Dougherty County Jail and pay a $500 fine after being found in contempt of court.

Commissioners are outraged. "John Bowens He can not continue to do as he wants to do, he has to abide by the law," said Vann Phillips, Terrell County Commissioner.

In the ruling Judge Perkins claims Bowens intentionally created a so called lack of personnel on a day inmates were due in court and then claimed he didn't have enough workers to transport inmates safely.  The Sheriff's office has 32 employees.

"The Sheriff himself brought that on himself and it wasn't the taxpayer responsibility to pay his legal fees," said Terrell Commission Chairman Wilber T. Gamble.

So the Judge also ruled taxpayers wouldn't be left holding the bill.  The Sheriff must pay his own legal fees.  Commissioners also voted to ask the District Attorney to investigate the Sheriff after $15,900 in missing property tax money suddenly reappeared at the sheriff's office in a bag.

"You're responsible for the people's money and keeping it in a safe in a grocery bag or whatever kind of bag he had, that's not, that's irresponsible," said Phillips.

Money that's been there for seven months.  Some commissioners don't believe the story.

"I doubt very seriously that's exactly how it happened, but that's what was told to us," Gamble said.

We stopped by the Sheriff's office and were told he was out in a patrol car, although we saw him sitting in his office and his car was in the lot.  His attorney Leonard Danley told us they're working to draw up his appeal. 

He says this feud between commissioners and the Sheriff has gone on for years and since they can't vote him out, they're trying to push him out another way.

The Sheriff's appeal is expected to be filed some time before the end of the week.

This is the second time Commissioners voted to ask the D. A. to investigate Sheriff Bowens.
The first time, he declined citing a personal relationship with a deputy, but that person no longer works for the Sheriff's Office.

©2010 WALB News. All rights reserved. 

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