Deputy fired over ties to school investigation

A Richmond County sheriff's deputy was fired Friday because of his involvement with an ongoing investigation into improper relations among Spirit Creek Middle School faculty and staff.

Deputy Ronnie V. Collins, 40, joined the sheriff's office in April after resigning from the Richmond County Board of Education, where he worked as a public safety officer, according to Sheriff Ronnie Strength.

The sheriff said the board's internal affairs investigators contacted him last week and that Deputy Collins was terminated because he was not truthful in his job interview.

"When he was interviewed down here for a job, he did not bring any of this up to us," Sheriff Strength said. "We did not feel it was in the best interest of this agency to have him working here in light of the ongoing investigation at the board of education."

The investigation is continuing into the improper relationships among members of Spirit Creek's faculty, staff and administration, Director of Public Information Louis Svehla said, confirming the relationships involves sex. An e-mail was sent to the school system a couple of weeks ago alleging employees had sex on campus last year.

Details of the allegations are still being investigated, he said, including whether the sex occurred during school hours, who was involved and who sent the e-mail.

"They obviously felt it was enough in the e-mail to warrant an investigation," Mr. Svehla said. "They really haven't given me any of the details."

Mr. Collins resigned his position as a school board public safety officer April 12. His letter of resignation stated he would be returning to the sheriff's office as an upward career move. The Augusta Chronicle requested Mr. Collins' school board personnel file.

The file, however, did not include letters of reprimand that should have been in there, Mr. Svehla said. He said the letters of reprimand are in a separate file in the school system's public safety office and were unavailable Friday.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.