Sheriff indicted by Grand Jury - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Sheriff indicted by Grand Jury

March 20, 2006

Douglas - An eight count indictment was filed Monday afternoon. The sheriff has not turned in resignation letter.

Rumors were swirling around the county last week about an investigation into whether Smith improperly used his powers as Sheriff. We now know more about the investigation.

The Grand Jury handed down an eight count indictment against Sheriff Rob Smith Monday. He was true billed on Three counts of use of inmate for private gain, two counts of violation of oath by public officer, two counts of malpractice and malfeasance, and one count of theft by conversion.

The indictment claims Smith used jail inmates to construct political signs and that he converted a state vehicle into a personal car.

Last Friday about 100 people rallied at the Coffee County Jail in support of Sheriff Smith. County leaders would not comment on the investigation at the time, because of a gag order issued by the three Superior Court Judges in the Waycross Judicial Circuit.

The Governor's office had not received a resignation letter from Smith as of late Monday afternoon. If he does not resign, the Governor has the option to appoint a three member commission to examine the charges against him.

That commission will be composed of two Sheriff's and the State Attorney General. It will decide how serious the charges are and make a recommendation on whether Smith should be suspended from his duties until the completion of a trial.

The Governor has not received a copy of the indictment. D.A. Rick Curry plans to send him a certified copy early Tuesday morning.

If the Governor appoints a three person committee, it must make a report of its investigation to the Governor within 30 days of the appointment. The Governor can suspend the Sheriff for up to 60 days and may extend the suspension for an additional 30 days. He could also request the District attorney to bring a removal petition against the Sheriff.

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