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Badge and Bar: Hall sheriff’s office files lawsuit against Civil Service Board, reinstated deputies

POSTED: January 22, 2014 11:59 p.m.

The Hall County Sheriff’s Office has filed suit against the Civil Service Board and former deputies Jack Dodd and Randy Henslee.

Dodd and Henslee were reinstated by the board after being fired in July when an inmate in their custody escaped from the courthouse. The sheriff’s office announced its intention to appeal to Hall County Superior Court after the November hearing.

The reinstated deputies have not returned to their old jobs pending the appeal.

Inmate James Cantrell hid in an alcove as inmates were moved out of the courthouse and into a minibus for transport. He was recaptured about a week later.

The deputies have said their inmate transports were understaffed, despite repeated requests to lighten the load. The sheriff’s office has said the deputies were negligent in their duties and warranted termination.

A court date has not been set. The suit was filed on Dec. 17.

Man acquitted in Lake Lanier homicide case pleads no contest in theft

Paul Bennett, the man acquitted of homicide in the deaths of two Buford boys on Lake Lanier, pleaded guilty Jan. 6 to one count of theft by taking.

He was sentenced to 12 months’ probation by Hall County State Court Judge B.E. Roberts in the alleged May 3, 2012, theft of a sign from Big Creek Tavern.

Bennett faced four misdemeanor charges in the incident: one count of theft by taking and three counts of criminal trespassing.

The trespassing charges were merged with the theft charge, to which Bennett entered a no-contest plea.

Bennett told investigators he had a drink at the same restaurant before a June 18, 2012, boating accident that killed two Buford boys, Jake Prince, 9, and Griffin Prince, 13.

On Nov. 14, Bennett was acquitted by a Hall County jury on eight felony homicide by vessel charges and convicted on four misdemeanor counts stemming from the accident.

Prosecutors had sought at a hearing to admit the theft charge as evidence in Bennett’s homicide by vessel trial. The judge ultimately made no ruling on the motion, and the state did not seek to admit the charges again.

Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin sentenced Bennett to two years in jail for boating under the influence, failure to render aid and two counts of reckless boating.

Emma Witman covers public safety issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with her:

ewitman@gainesvilletimes.com

facebook.com/timesemmawitman

@EmmaWTimes


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