News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A Richmond County deputy is off the job following an ongoing month-long investigation. A second employee who had been on suspension with pay during the investigation has been cleared and has returned to work.
It had been a rocky four years for Deputy Street, who is now fired for a "criminal acts" violation.
"Anytime you have somebody to go wrong," said Sheriff Ronnie Strength, "it upsets you."
Strength says the move is the result of a 30-day investigation stemming from an anonymous email accusing a deputy of giving a list of names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth to a female at a local sports bar on Peach Orchard Road.
"Are regular citizens impacted?" we asked Strength. "Where is this information come from?"
"We are still running that down," Strength said. "The media won't let you finish an investigation before they are down here wanting some information."
How many names were on the list?
"A pretty good many names were on there. I can't tell you exactly." Strength said. "But if it was one, we are concerned about it."
According to the disciplinary report, Street admitted to compiling the list to possibly get someone to file tax returns to receive refunds fraudulently, but the former deputy allegedly got "scared" and did not follow through with the plan.
"We will not sit back and cover up or take it," Strength said. "We are going to take whatever action we deem necessary. If it is to send somebody to the penitentiary, we don't mind doing that either."
Street has a record of disciplinary action, including three cases of not reporting for duty that led to two days suspension, failing to be truthful that led to 10 days suspension, and now this criminal acts violation.
"There could be a warrant in the future," Strength said. "The investigation is not over."
The Sheriff's Office is working this case with the Internal Revenue Service to see if any false returns have been filed from the list.