The recent indictment of a former Hall County Sheriff’s Office deputy has raised questions about the future of cases in which he was involved.
David M. Treadwell, 33, of Gainesville, was charged in a seven-count indictment on Jan. 28 involving accusations he took payments from someone he believed to be a drug dealer with the understanding he would tell the dealer if the sheriff’s office was investigating him.
Treadwell, who had worked with the sheriff’s office since 2007 and held the title of investigator, was fired two days after the indictment.
His credibility may affect prosecutions on cases he took part in.
“We’ll evaluate each case on a case-by-case basis as to whether his difficulties will affect our prosecutions,” Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh said.
Sheriff Gerald Couch said there is an internal review of the work Treadwell was doing leading up to the indictment.
“The supervisors here at the sheriff’s office have pulled all of those cases that were assigned to him that he was currently working on,” Couch said.
Because almost 95 percent of cases seen by the Hall County Public Defender’s Office result in pleas, Public Defender Brad Morris said involvement with officers in investigations is sometimes limited.
“It depends on the facts of the case, where the evidence is and whether he was critical or not,” Morris said.
However, the importance of testimony by law enforcement at a trial cannot be understated.
“He’s been accused of the worst thing in many ways in the criminal justice system: to have a law enforcement person who’s a criminal himself, can’t be trusted and frequently is testifying against people and making statements,” Morris said.
“Those people need to be credible, because juries always believe them, and so much is dependent upon what they say in their statements.”
Treadwell was only involved in one drug investigation or arrest in the past five years — a 2013 arrest in which he was listed as the investigating officer, according to records requested by The Times.
Sheriff’s office Lt. Stephanie Gilbert said he handled more crimes against persons during his time in the sheriff’s office.
In at least one recent case, though, Treadwell’s name appears on an affidavit for a search warrant in what turned into a drug case.
“I think it’s going to have a tremendous impact on Terry and Orlando Maddox’s case,” said their attorney, Dan Sammons.
The Maddox brothers were arrested Dec. 14 and charged with possession of synthetic marijuana with the intent to distribute and other charges. They and an associate, Gabriel Williams Jr., were accused by the Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad of violating the Georgia Street Gang and Terrorism Prevention Act for their associations with Money Gang.
The family and their attorneys have rebutted the claim, saying the men are involved in a rap group.
When authorities hope to execute a search warrant, they present an affidavit to a judge that there is probable cause to search the residence.
“The magistrate’s having to pass on his credibility and believability,” Sammons said.
Sammons said the issue cannot be raised in the Maddox case until after it is indicted, if a grand jury so decides. Then, he said, he looks forward to litigating the issue based on the credibility of the officer and the subsequent search.
Couch said he expects some attorneys on previous cases involving Treadwell may act in the same way.
“I have no reason to doubt that at some point on some of the cases that he was involved in that there would be some type of either appeal filed or some type of motion filed,” he said.
On major cases, Couch said investigators will usually work in a team or as a pair to allow all officers the knowledge of the case if called to testify.
“Either of the two could testify about that interview or was present during the collection of evidence or anything of that nature,” Couch said. “We try to safeguard that especially on major cases.”
Treadwell pleaded not guilty at an arraignment Jan. 30 and applied for indigent defense.
Treadwell’s federal public defenders, J. Wesley Bryant and Millie Dunn, have filed a motion to suppress statements made by Treadwell to the FBI.
“Mr. Treadwell was misled to believe that an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation wanted to talk to him about a murder Mr. Treadwell was investigating,” according to the motion.
The motion alleges he met with FBI agents at the federal courthouse in Gainesville, where he made “custodial statements” to FBI agents. His attorneys want to suppress any statements made involuntarily or not in the presence of his Miranda rights.
Dunn declined to comment on her client’s behalf.