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Deputy fired for drug use, letter says

Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 1:31 PM
Last updated Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014 1:32 AM
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The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office’s 2013 Deputy of the Year was fired last month after admitting to purchasing cocaine while on duty, in uniform and in a patrol vehicle “a couple dozen times,” according to his termination letter released Wednesday.

Austin Shepherd: Deputy said he purchased cocaine while on duty and in uniform.  SPECIAL
SPECIAL
Austin Shepherd: Deputy said he purchased cocaine while on duty and in uniform.


The sheriff’s office launched an investigation into Deputy Austin Shepherd in March 2012 after he was spotted going into the Davis Mill Road residence of known drug dealer Stephen Marquise Crawford.

Shepherd told a disciplinary review board he went into the home, which was outside of his beat, while on duty to trade video games with Crawford, who was a longtime friend, according to the letter. Then-Sheriff Ronnie Strength suspended Shepherd for 15 days and placed him on a year of probation.

After Crawford was sentenced in federal court on drug charges on Dec. 19, 2013, an investigator for the sheriff’s office interviewed him about his involvement with Shepherd.

Crawford said he met Shepherd about 2006 in Wrens, Ga., before he was in law enforcement and would sell cocaine to him “almost every day,” according to the termination letter.

After he became a sheriff’s deputy, Shepherd continued to buy cocaine from Crawford “at a minimum of once a week” while on duty and in his patrol car, Crawford told the investigator.

Crawford said that he received information about the narcotics division through their relationship and that Shepherd would trade drugs confiscated from offenders with him for cocaine.

In an interview with Maj. Scott Peebles on Dec. 30, Shepherd said he had not dealt with Crawford since October 2012 and had not used cocaine since April 2012.

Shepherd admitted to using cocaine while employed with the sheriff’s office and had bought the drug from Crawford a “couple dozen times.”

He also admitted to using cocaine during college and lying on his pre-employment application and polygraph about his drug use.

He denied, however, trading confiscated drugs with Crawford or providing sensitive information about the narcotics division, according to the letter.

Sheriff Richard Round­tree stated in a media release Wednesday that his office worked with the local FBI office to determine whether criminal charges could be pursued after Shepherd’s termination Dec. 30.

Because enough evidence wasn’t available for a prosecution, no criminal charges will be filed, Roundtree stated. Sheperd, a five-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, was selected as Deputy of the Year for 2013 and recognized by the mayor and the Augusta Commission as county Employee of the Month in September.

The honor came after the deputy discovered a family of four on Washington Road that had been living in their vehicle for a week. A woman who suffered mental problems had taken the vehicle with her 2-year-old and left her husband and 8-year-old son behind after destroying the boy’s clothing.

After Shepherd stopped her auto, the woman begged him to shoot her before she was taken into custody.

Shepherd and his wife bought clothes for the 8-year-old and raised $140 through donations from fellow officers to help the family. The deputy also worked with a friend who manages a motel so the family could have a room at a reduced rate.

The 19 felony arrests that Shepherd made in 2013 were another reason for the award, police said at the award ceremony.

Shepherd also spearheaded a fundraiser to give to the employees of a car wash at Walton Way and Crawford Avenue who have befriended deputies. The fundraiser resulted in $350 being divided among the car wash employees.

As part of his award, Shep­herd received a day off with pay, more than $500 in gift certificates donated by businesses, a sheriff’s office watch, a plaque and a letter from the sheriff.

Staff Writer Bianca Cain Johnson contributed to this article.

Comments (49) Add comment
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fatboyhog
2104
Points
fatboyhog 01/23/14 - 06:46 am
5
3
Response

I was going to respond MF15, but I wasn't going to give anyone the satisfaction. You know those that really have a "little" problem are often the ones saying that others have a "little" problem." That's how they overcompensate for their own "little" issue.

corgimom
38546
Points
corgimom 01/23/14 - 06:47 am
4
5
Sure, ICL, everybody buys

Sure, ICL, everybody buys cocaine "a couple dozen times"-- by their own admission- and they aren't an addict.

This person, who was not an addict, was so desperate for it that he went to his dealer's house in full uniform, in his patrol car, while on duty- because of- what?

corgimom
38546
Points
corgimom 01/23/14 - 06:54 am
5
4
I just don't understand

I just don't understand having "compassion" for a crooked cop. I don't understand having "compassion" for someone who, as a police officer, needs high levels of good judgment, while they are altering their brain on cocaine.

It is ludicrous to think that a police officer using cocaine would possess the skills needed to perform his job well. Cocaine distorts thinking and judgment- but ICL has no problem with that person wearing a badge and a gun and having arrest powers, while using cocaine.

Oh, and he lied about his drug use when he got hired. Sure, just what the county needs, a lying cop. If he lied about that, what else did he lie about?

GiantsAllDay
10519
Points
GiantsAllDay 01/23/14 - 07:47 am
3
4
law enforcement is a

law enforcement is a "calling"? Holy crap, we are doomed

GiantsAllDay
10519
Points
GiantsAllDay 01/23/14 - 07:50 am
4
4
and don't let a cop bully you

and don't let a cop bully you for giving a thumbs up. Bully's with badges is what they are

Little Old Lady
8937
Points
Little Old Lady 01/23/14 - 08:19 am
5
3
Law Enforcement

GAD, my husband is retired law enforcement. He has 5 college degrees including a Masters. How many do you have?

Sounds as though you have been on the wrong end of the law a few times.

GiantsAllDay
10519
Points
GiantsAllDay 01/23/14 - 08:36 am
3
5
1 BS and1 MS, that's it for

1 BS and1 MS, that's it for me. So, Little Old Lady, what have YOU done? Or do you just piggy back on your husband's accomplishments? You really don't want to go down this road. Or do you?

internationallyunknown
5048
Points
internationallyunknown 01/23/14 - 08:56 am
1
4
He's not the only one.

lol @ all of the compassion for a COKE HEAD.
lol @ all of the compassion for a DIRTY COP.

Even DOPE HEADS can do good, huh? LOL!

Hypocritical comments. Typical behavior.

juantez
254
Points
juantez 01/23/14 - 08:56 am
0
0
Crack Head
Unpublished

They say cocaine...AKA Crack

internationallyunknown
5048
Points
internationallyunknown 01/23/14 - 08:57 am
4
2
THUMBS UP

to Roundtree for cleaning up things.

The old sheriff KNEW what was going on...that speaks volumes.

InChristLove
22485
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InChristLove 01/23/14 - 08:59 am
3
0
One BS is all it takes....as

One BS is all it takes....as for the MS, not sure what that stands for.

GiantsAllDay
10519
Points
GiantsAllDay 01/23/14 - 09:03 am
4
3
internationally unknown, I

internationally unknown, I agree. Cops around here are street gangs with badges and guns. Only go down whenever the Augusta Chronicle reports it. Augusta GA is probably one of the dirtiest cities in the nation. And I am comparing Boston, New Orleans and Chicago.

GiantsAllDay
10519
Points
GiantsAllDay 01/23/14 - 09:05 am
4
2
ICL, how are you doing, my

LOL LOL----ICL, how are you doing, my friend? Yes, a whole lot of BS went into my education.

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 01/23/14 - 09:08 am
2
2
"I just don't understand

"I just don't understand having "compassion" "

This is all Corgimom had to say.

For the record Corgimom, what I have is an understanding that humans are not perfect and this man made a horrible choice. If you want to call hoping he gets his life straightened out and moves on, compassion, well guess it is what it is.

Falsely accusssing someone and making up lies just because you think you know it all, is right up your alley. Here's another one of your lies "but ICL has no problem with that person wearing a badge and a gun and having arrest powers, while using cocaine."

First off, I do not approve of any office using drugs of any kind while on duty. Second, you do not know for a fact that his officer was "USING" drugs while on duty. Did he purchase them, yes. Was he using, you do not know and neither do I. I believe you've already had one comment pulled making false accussations against this man, be careful there's not another. Stick to the facts and you'll be fine....but then you have to be the expert on everything, you have all the answers and by the way, professing to be perfect and showboating is an ugly trait.

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 01/23/14 - 09:18 am
5
1
GAD, you got the skinny on

GAD, you got the skinny on all the cops here in Augusta? My, maybe you should write a book about it. Actually I think it's a lot of the BS you so proud about. I'll agree, every department has one or two bad apples but for the most part, I'd say most of our guys/gals in law enforcement are find upstanding officers. I'm sure you'll disagree but you are entitled to have an opinion, even if it's wrong.

GiantsAllDay
10519
Points
GiantsAllDay 01/23/14 - 09:20 am
2
3
ICL, I appreciate your

ICL, I appreciate your comments. Please use the same brain when you read the bible ok? You know, there is no evidence at all that the garden of eden, noah's ark, a talking donkey, a prophet murdering little kids because they made fun of his bald head, guys with sore penis's getting wiped out due to circumcision, you do know none of these things never happened, right?

Little Old Lady
8937
Points
Little Old Lady 01/23/14 - 09:21 am
3
0
I only have three degrees. I

I only have three degrees. I don't piggy back on anybody. Just ask my husband.

I will go down any road you want, Darlin'. It just seems you paint all law enforcement with the same brush. Seems wrong to me. Think it is called Profiling. There are good and bad in any walk of life. I am glad when the bad ones are found and terminated. But don't denigrate the good hardworking people who put their lives on the line for you just because there are a few bad ones.

Training is the answer. Training now seems to be mostly academic and not real life.

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 01/23/14 - 09:31 am
2
2
(GAD) "you do know none of

(GAD) "you do know none of these things never happened, right?"

Not at all GAD, do you know they never happened? Do you have proof they never did? No, I don't have proof that they did, but I have faith they did. Big difference. I don't need proof....it is my choice to believe they did, just as it is your's to believe they didn't....but neither you or I can prove one way or the other.

Isn't it wonderful to have free will?

GiantsAllDay
10519
Points
GiantsAllDay 01/23/14 - 09:53 am
4
3
Holy crap, ICL-- I have

Holy crap, ICL I mean-----HOLY CRAP!!! would you go into court and testify to something based on what you FEEL and BELIEVE?? HOLY CRAP!! Is there a judge in the CSRA who would accept such a testimony?? HOLY CRAP, the CSRA is doomed. -- I have absolutely no evidence that there is a flying spaghetti monster behind the planet Jupiter, either. Little old lady, good response. No, not all cops are bad and I apologize for my comment. Police are out there every day doing a most difficult job. Not one I would ever sign up for. Perhaps we can find common ground and be friends?

Little Old Lady
8937
Points
Little Old Lady 01/23/14 - 09:48 am
4
0
Of Course

Thank you for your reply. Of course, we can be friends. Being a little old lady, I have many friends with whom I disagree, but love them all the same. I love being a little old lady, we can get away with so much.

GiantsAllDay
10519
Points
GiantsAllDay 01/23/14 - 09:59 am
2
1
little old lady, yes you can.

little old lady, yes you can. :-)green thumb up to you Being a little old lady seems to be a great job. :-)

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 01/23/14 - 09:53 am
3
1
Nope GAD but it you want to

Nope GAD but it you want to believe in the flying spaghetti monster, more power to you.

I did have to do some checking about an earlier comment you made that puzzled me, so just for my satisfaction needs correcting. You stated "guys with sore penis's getting wiped out due to circumcision"

I believe if you read Genesis 34, you'll discover that the guys with sore penises did not get wiped out due to circumcision. I believe Shechem and his father Hamor, along with the other Canaanites and Perizzites men were wiped out by Jacob's sons Simeon and Levi, because Schechem raped and defiled their sister Dinah. They just used the circumcision ploy to unarm the Canaanites and Perizzites so they could seek revenge. (Just a little fact finding correction....wouldn't want you to be misinformed)

GiantsAllDay
10519
Points
GiantsAllDay 01/23/14 - 09:56 am
0
3
so you believe all that stuff

so you believe all that stuff in the OT really happened?

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 01/23/14 - 10:03 am
3
0
Here is some addition info

Here is some addition info for "a prophet murdering little kids because they made fun of his bald head"

Check out this site. I believe they can explain it better than I. These were "little kids", they were a mob of young men. Great reminder that God will not be mocked.

http://www.gotquestions.org/Elisha-baldhead.html

GiantsAllDay
10519
Points
GiantsAllDay 01/23/14 - 10:11 am
0
3
just answer the question,

just answer the question, please....

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 01/23/14 - 10:12 am
3
1
(GAD) "Holy crap, ICL I

(GAD) "Holy crap, ICL I mean-----HOLY CRAP!!! would you go into court and testify to something based on what you FEEL and BELIEVE?? HOLY CRAP!! Is there a judge in the CSRA who would accept such a testimony?? HOLY CRAP, the CSRA is doomed"

Well, never really considered CRAP as HOLY but if you do, that's your business.

As to whether I believe it happened, Yes I do. As stupid and ignorant as you might think it, I believe He said His Word is truth and everything is scripture is there for a reason. You can learn from it or disgard it....your choice.

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 01/23/14 - 10:16 am
3
0
"just answer the question,

"just answer the question, please...."

Geeze.....give a person a chance to respond. I had to go pee!

GiantsAllDay
10519
Points
GiantsAllDay 01/23/14 - 10:26 am
0
4
So, ICL, you would testify in

So, ICL, you would testify in a court of law what you feel? Crap, we are all doomed.

jbartley
619
Points
jbartley 01/23/14 - 10:43 am
0
2
Drugs

Drugs and alcohol destroys another life, what a shame!

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 01/23/14 - 11:03 am
4
0
GAD, why would I need to

GAD, why would I need to testify in a court of law about what I believe? That makes no sense?

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