Originally created 02/17/04

Sergeant, deputy resign



A Richmond County sheriff's sergeant has resigned after admitting he took a computer from the property room, Sheriff Ronnie Strength said Monday.

Sgt. Jimmy Vowell, 42, the head of the property crimes division, resigned Friday rather than "bring further embarrassment" to the sheriff's office, Sheriff Strength said. A criminal investigation is pending.

The computer system Sgt. Vowell took home was seized in a 2000 raid and determined to be stolen. The sheriff's office couldn't find the owner and was preparing to destroy the equipment in January 2003, but Sgt. Vowell signed for it and carried it home, Sheriff Strength said.

The sergeant's ex-girlfriend called internal affairs this month about the computer. When Sgt. Vowell returned the equipment, the serial numbers were scratched out, the sheriff said.

Sgt. Vowell, a veteran officer for 20 years, could face criminal charges if investigators determine a crime was committed. Their findings will be forwarded to the District Attorney's Office. Sgt. Vowell was not asked to resign, the sheriff said.

"(Sgt. Vowell) said he thought about it, and once he thought about it, he knew it was wrong," the sheriff said.

In an unrelated case, Deputy Dwayne Flowers, 34, has resigned after using money raised by an Explorer scouting group to make a car payment. The issue was unrelated to his job at the training center, but Sheriff Strength said the officer quit in December after it was reported to the agency.

Deputy Flowers' estranged wife called the sheriff's office and said he had made a past-due car payment with money raised by a scouting troop he was helping.

A troop leader declined to prosecute, telling police he just wanted the money back. No charges were filed against Deputy Flowers, who had worked off and on for the agency. He has since taken a job with the Hephzibah Police Department.

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or greg.rickabaugh@augustachronicle.com.