Four Sheriff's Deputies Fired After Allegations Of Misuse - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3/30/08-Smith County

Four Sheriff's Deputies Fired After Allegations Of Misuse

They're accused of pocketing county money, even using jail inmates to work on their personal property. And now, they could face felony criminal charges. KLTV 7's Tracy Watler examines the Smith County Sheriff's Department, now, without four of its officers.

"They know the first week that you go to school that you don't do the things that they've done."

Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith is talking about four of his own.  Deputies, he says, the department has been investigating since January.

"Not only was department policy violated, but a couple of instances they were using county prisoners for personal use...working on automobiles, working on a motorcycle, personal lawnmowers and weed-eaters and things of that nature," Smith explains.

And because of that, detention officers Brandon Langston, Benjamin Hicks and Jeff Hudnall and Lieutenant Gary Lile have been fired.

All four officers worked at the county's low-risk jail facility. In fact, Lt. Gary Lile was the facility's supervisor, a 12-year veteran with the department.

The four men are also accused of pocketing monies earned from selling scrap metal and stray livestock found that should have gone to the county's general fund.

"The public expects us to clean our own house, they expect when we find a violation, to handle it and to handle it in an appropriate way," says Smith.

The internal investigation is now being turned over to the Texas Rangers where felony criminal charges could be filed. 

"It's been going on quite a while."

Smith says, for several years, so long, he says they don't have an exact figure as to how much money's been stolen.

"It's a sad day for us, but we have appropriate it action, we've got to be responsible for cleaning house and it's sad, but you have to let the chips fall where they may," says Sheriff Smith.

He says the county has not yet finished it's internal investigation so more people could be involved, and may face disciplinary action.

Tracy Watler, Reporting

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