One officer demoted four others reprimanded following pre-dawn badminton game

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Dawson County Sheriff’s Office Night Patrol Shift Supervisor Donna Bennett has been demoted from sergeant to corporal after she and the entire night patrol shift left the county with no officers on the road last Wednesday to play badminton in a local middle school gym.

Corporal Casey Honea, and Deputies Jacob Champion, Richard Martin and Corey Gearin all received a verbal reprimand for their participation in the pre-dawn departure from duty. The officers reportedly met at the school to conduct a building-clearing exercise.

Johnson said the game lasted only 35 minutes, but a video surveillance camera shows the officers were in the gym from 1:45 a.m. until 3:46 a.m.

The incident is just the latest in a series of incidents that has created negative publicity for the sheriff’s office and caused some elected officials to questioning Johnson’s leadership. Some have quietly discussed finding someone to run against him in the next election.

The negative publicity started during Johnson’s first year in office when he angered county commissioners by filing a $700,000 lawsuit against them seeking additional funding in his budget. Johnson claimed the Board abused its discretion by setting the sheriff’s office budget at $8.4 million.

Senior Superior Court Judge Fred A. Bishop ruled against the sheriff and taxpayers were left to pick up the cost of the lawsuit. At the end of the year Johnson was surprised to learn that he had $400,000 remaining in the budget that he failed spend.

In the last three months, three Dawson County detention officers have been arrested.

In September, Luciano Pablo Betancourt was forced to resign and charged with violation of oath of office after a female inmate alleged she and Betancourt had carried on a sexual relationship.

One week later, detention officer Michael Kormos was arrested in Lumpkin County and charged with simple battery family violence following a weekend domestic dispute with his estranged wife.

On December 2, Richard Anthony was arrested in Cherokee County and charged with battery against his wife.

Fetch Your News attempted to contact Johnson for comment, but he declined to return our call.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

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Former Dawson County jailer is behind bars

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – One day after Fetch Your News published an article alleging that a former Dawson County Sheriff’s Office detention officer carried on a romantic relationship with a female prisoner, Luciano Pablo Betancourt was arrested and charged with violation of his oath of office.

Betancourt, who resigned in lieu of termination on Aug. 14, has been placed in the same Dawson County Detention Center where he once guarded prisoners. He could face up to five years behind bars.

In an exclusive interview with Fetch Your News, April Finnegan, 31, said last week that during her incarceration in the detention center, Betancourt “kissed her, put his hand inside her shirt and asked her to send him nude photos of herself.”

Finnegan, who was serving a three-month sentence on probation violation and drug possession was released on July 3. She said she did not report the incident because she had become attracted to the guard.

“I’m not trying to get him into trouble, even now,” she told Fetch Your News. “Everybody in my dorm could tell. Everybody knew what was going on. One of the girls in my dorm even asked him jokingly, ‘Hey Betancourt can you two get married while she’s incarcerated.’”

Georgia law doesn’t take into account whether sex acts between a prison guard and an inmate are consensual, because guards have inherent authority over prisoners. Congress in 2003 passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act, which calls for corrections systems to have a zero-tolerance policy on prison rape.

Sheriff Jeff Johnson told the local newspaper Tuesday that Betancourt’s arrest follows an internal affairs investigation. But Finnegan said she was never questioned by anyone from internal affairs.

According to his personnel file, Betancourt received a written reprimand in July 2017 for another policy violation. The policy states: “Employees shall not fraternize with or engage the personal services of any person in custody; shall not become socially or emotionally involved with prisoners; shall not borrow money or any type of property; or shall not lend money or any property to any person in custody.”

The reprimand states, “Officer Betancourt had spent time with 2 females in (cell) E-4 every shift he had worked between the dates of June 29 and July15. Betancourt would stop and spend two minutes talking with the 2 females, had the females out cleaning the showers in their whites (shirt and underwear) and remained in the pod while they were off camera in the shower. Betancourt remained at the table nearest the shower where he had full visual contact with the inmates. Thus far, there has been no allegation made by the inmates and Betancourt expresses he does understand the potential for accusations from these behaviors.”

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

 

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