Coffee County sheriff enters plea agreement - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Coffee County sheriff enters plea agreement

March 31, 2006

Waycross--Indicted Coffee County Sheriff Rob Smith agrees to leave office. He entered into a plea agreement that will keep him out of jail but will also keep him out of office.

The man in charge of prosecuting the case spoke out this afternoon.

"Everything catches up with you one day." That's district attorney, Rick Currie's, message to Coffee County Sheriff Rob Smith, who agreed to plead guilty to one of the eight charges brought against him.

"He plead guilty to one count of malpractice and malfeasance in office," he says. By doing so, Smith will avoid any jail time. "The evidence is such that he might be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, so it's in his best interest to plead," he says.

Currie says there is plenty of evidence that Smith illegally used inmate labor. "Some of it was photographs from the Coffee County newspaper, showing inmates working on political signs for the sheriff," he says.

Currie says in addition to the criminal charges against Smith, there was mismanagement at the Sheriff's Office that needs to be corrected.

"Abuses that occurred down there. Use of passes to allow inmates to be released on personal business, we've looked into that, we're concerned about that," he says.

For now, Currie is glad the case was resolved quickly. "It saves the citizens of Coffee County some money, some time, some effort, probably some things that would have had an  effect on the department, the Coffee County Sheriff's Office, and also on the citizens of Coffee County," he says.

Many people rallied in support of Sheriff Smith. Currie says he has no problem with them expressing their opinions. "I'm glad he has people who support him, and he'll certainly need people who still support him in these coming days," he says.

And he hopes the people of Coffee County can begin to put the past behind them and move on.

An interim sheriff has not been named. The probate judge will make that appointment after Smith's resignation is official on April 15th.

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