Originally created 10/07/98

Deputy marshal dismissed

A Richmond County deputy marshal, facing felony charges after he was accused of groping a woman during a traffic stop in August, has been fired from his job for violating department policy.

Osborn "Oz" Nesbitt, 31, was put on administrative leave with pay after the incident but was terminated Sept. 28, Richmond County Marshal Steve Smith said.

He was given the opportunity to resign but declined, Marshal Smith said.

Mr. Nesbitt worked an unauthorized special, or side job, the marshal said. Deputy marshals as well as sheriff's deputies often work specials as security guards during their off time.

To work a special, a deputy marshal first must have it approved, and Mr. Nesbitt worked a special without having it approved, Marshal Smith said.

Mr. Nesbitt, who left the Richmond County Sheriff's Department about a year ago to be promoted to sergeant at the marshal's department, was on his way back from working the unauthorized special Aug. 9 when he is accused of stopping a woman on her bike and fondling her, police said.

"He violated department policy that was not a direct result of the criminal charges, but we learned of the unauthorized special through the charges," Marshal Smith said.

Mr. Nesbitt, reached at his Bowdoin Drive home Tuesday, declined to comment and refused to release his attorney's name. In an earlier interview, Mr. Nesbitt said he did not know the woman accusing him, and he denied the incident.

A 19-year-old college student is accusing him of stopping her on her bicycle at least twice at about 3 a.m. Aug. 9 on Wrightsboro Road. She told police a black sergeant with the marshal's department stopped her, and when he suspected she had drugs on her, he searched her and groped her.

Mr. Nesbitt was the only black sergeant with the marshal's department, which enforces evictions, serves warrants and performs other tasks.

The woman reported the incident to the marshal's department, and Marshal Smith turned over the investigation to the sheriff's department.

Mr. Nesbitt turned himself in to police Aug. 20 and was immediately released on $7,500 bail. He was charged with sexual battery and making false statements in a government matter.

Sexual battery, a misdemeanor, carries up to a two-year prison sentence, and false statements in a government matter is a felony which carries a maximum of five years in prison.

The unauthorized special isn't the only infraction on which Mr. Nesbitt's termination was based, Marshal Smith said. Mr. Nesbitt also notarized traffic tickets although he does not have notary authority, the marshal said.

These latest infractions with the marshal's department aren't the only problems Mr. Nesbitt has had on the job.

As a Richmond County sheriff's deputy for more than 10 years, Mr. Nesbitt received a total of 22 days on suspension for five separate incidents during that period, according to internal affairs reports from the Richmond County Sheriff's Department.

He received an eight-day suspension in July 1987 after he was asked by a bartender at a bar to remove several customers.

Mr. Nesbitt was off duty at the time, and one of the customers was injured while being removed, but Mr. Nesbitt did not file a report, records show.

He received a five-day suspension in March 1995 after a supervisor found him at home asleep on duty. On two occasions, he received written warnings for not reporting to work or calling.

On two occasions, he was required to attend court proceedings or a police course and did not show up. He also received warnings for not keeping his pistol clean and not having his patrol car serviced as required, records show.

By Meghan Gourley covers crime for The Augusta Chronicle. She can be reached at (706) 823-3227 or newsroom@augustachronicle.com


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