Sheriff: Former 'Deputy of the Year' fired for cocaine - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Sheriff's Office: Former 'Deputy of the Year' fired for cocaine use

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Former Deputy Austin Shepherd received the "Deputy of the Year" award in December about a week before he was fired. (Source: Richmond Co. Sheriff's Office) Former Deputy Austin Shepherd received the "Deputy of the Year" award in December about a week before he was fired. (Source: Richmond Co. Sheriff's Office)
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AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) -

Update:

"During my administration, when I took office, I had absolutely no problems with Deputy Shepherd. When I spoke with him I told him I wanted to remember him as the deputy that worked for me," said Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree.

But now Deputy Austin Shepherd is no longer employed by the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

A termination letter released by the office Wednesday, said Deputy Shepherd was investigated after allegations made by convicted drug dealer Stephen Marquise Crawford aroused. Crawford said Shepherd bought and sold cocaine while in uniform.

"He provided some detail information about his relationship with Deputy Shepherd prior to being in law enforcement and what concerns us more is after he was in law enforcement the details he gave about their relationship and drug activity," Roundtree said.

The report said Shepherd entered Crawford's house while the house was under surveillance by the narcotics division in March 2012. Shepherd went before the Disciplinary Review Board to answer the those allegations but said he was only there to trade video games and that Crawford was a long-time friend.

"That was prior to my administration. This was something, again, we weren't made aware of until the allegations came up during our interview," said Roundtree.

Shepherd was suspended for 15 days and placed on probation by former Sheriff Ronald Strength but more recently Shepherd admitted to using drugs.

"Deputy Shepherd did admit that he was, in fact, using cocaine, at some point in his law enforcement career and that's what led to his termination."

Original:

A former deputy with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office was fired in December after he admitted to buying and using cocaine, according to the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

Shepherd, who was named "Deputy of the Year" just a week before he was fired, is accused of purchasing cocaine from convicted drug dealer Stephen Marquise Crawford, according to Shepherd's termination letter released by the sheriff's office. 

No criminal charges will be filed because there is not enough evidence for prosecution, according to the sheriff's office. 

Crawford's house was under surveillance by the narcotics division in March 2012 when investigators said they saw Shepherd enter the house of the convicted drug dealer.

Later that month, Shepherd went before the Disciplinary Review Board to answer to those allegations. At the time, he admitted to going to Crawford's house and to knowing that he was a convicted drug dealer, according to the sheriff's office. But Shepherd said Crawford was a long-time friend and he was only there to trade video games. 

Shepherd was suspended for 15 days and placed on probation by former Sheriff Ronald Strength, according to the sheriff's office. 

Crawford was sentenced in federal court on Dec. 19 for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana, according to the sheriff's office. After Crawford's sentencing, investigators questioned him. 

Crawford told investigators that he met Shepherd in 2006 or 2007. At the time, Crawford said Shepherd bought cocaine from him almost every day. Crawford also told investigators that after Shepherd became a deputy, he bought cocaine from him about once a week while in uniform and in his patrol vehicle. 

Shepherd admitted that he used cocaine in college and lied about it on his pre-employment application, according to the sheriff's office. He also admitted to buying cocaine from Crawford "a couple dozen times," but said that he had not used cocaine since April 2012 when he was confronted by former Sheriff Ronald Strength. 

Shepherd was fired for drug misuse and for lying and falsifying his pre-employment application, according to the sheriff's office. 

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