News 12 First at Five / Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014
Donnie Smith (WRDW-TV)
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- A completed Georgia State Patrol investigation finds Augusta Commissioner Donnie Smith worked another job during Masters Week without clocking out at GSP and viewed sexually suggestive images on his work computer.
The investigation began in April 2014 when former GSP Sgt. Perry Hobbs reported that now-former Lt. Donnie Smith appeared to be working a private job near Augusta National Golf Club during Masters Week while on the clock with GSP.
Smith was in civilian clothes, driving a non-departmental vehicle and sold Practice Round tickets to another coworker, the State Patrol's investigation report showed.
Smith was the only commissioned officer for his troop on duty that week, but instead of working for GSP, he was spotted several days in civilian clothing, driving his personal vehicle and driving people to and from the course in a golf cart, the report said. The informant told Hobbs that Smith worked at a hospitality suite owned by Augusta Sports & Travel between April 7-10, according to the report.
Smith claimed the owner of the hospitality suite only payed him a finder's fee for his work.
Others who work with GSP also confirmed seeing Smith around ANGC in civilian clothes working at the hospitality suite on Northwood Road in Augusta, the report said.
Hobbs said Smith had been "getting away with things" for "a long time." Hobbs also called Smith "a vindictive person who would retaliate."
Hobbs said he believed the work during Masters Week was Smith "stealing from the state." In previous years, Smith requested days off at GSP to work private Masters Week jobs, Hobbs stated in the report.
In the report, Smith admitted to being wrong for his behavior, but said he wasn't employed by anyone else during Masters Week. Smith claimed he was just visiting friends at the suite for numerous hours during the week in question.
"It stretches the imagination that Smith would spend more than 10 hours per day [at the suite] without compensation," the findings in the report state.
Smith said he never submitted an off duty timesheet in his nine years of Masters Week work.
In the report, Smith failed to report to duty for GSP with the exception of three to five hours during his 40-hour work week. The findings chastise Smith for intentionally making a false report, falsifying time sheets and failing to report for duty.
Along with the Masters Week investigation, a search of Smith's two GSP-issued computer hard drives showed sexually suggestive images from emails and saved files were found.
The investigation found Smith violated state law and his oath of office and "received compensation for virtually no services rendered to the citizens of the State of Georgia. Smith's conduct is unbecoming of a Georgia state trooper and violated the special trust that exists between members of the Georgia Department of Public Safety and the public it serves."
This investigation is closed and there will be no criminal charges, the Georgia Department of Public Safety said.
Smith said he filed for retirement, that kicked in on Sept. 1, before the investigation began. Prior to the release of the report, Smith said he was still deciding on his role as an Augusta Commissioner.
"Certainly, there have been challenges, but I'm here today on behalf of my constituents representing them in my position as commissioner for Augusta Richmond county," Smith said in July.
Mayor Deke Copenhaver said the situation was difficult for the Commission and everyone else involved.
"I don't know that there will be any commission action at this point," Copenhaver said. "We've not had any internal discussions, but it's just a very unfortunate situation."
A second investigation is underway into more possible policy violations, GSP confirmed. The second investigation began around the same time as the April 2014 incident, but details have not been released by GSP.
Since there weren't any criminal charges filed in this case, the Attorney General's office will not get involved. With a second investigation into Smith still pending, the mayor sad it will be up to Smith whether to resign.
A News 12 source said if Smith chooses to resign, there cannot be a special election to fill his role until March meaning someone would have to be appointed to fill his seat.