A former Hall County school resource officer who purchased firearms, a TV, a drone and other items on a school system credit card will not face criminal charges.
Hall County District Attorney Lee Darragh wrote in a letter to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation dated Oct. 19 and recently obtained by The Times that there was not enough evidence to “successfully prosecute” the case against Lt. Earl Roach.
“Therefore, we will not proceed with an indictment in the matter,” Darragh wrote.
Roach, who began working with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office in September 1991, was given a budget of $10,000 annually with little or no oversight. He was able to avoid scrutiny of his purchases until they were discovered during an internal audit after Roach retired in March 2016.
Roach’s purchases, totaling $10,164.64, two semi-automatic AR-style rifles and a shotgun.
“He claimed he was gathering the items purchased to be kept in his care for a ‘rapid response team’ of his own making of which the sheriff of the county had no knowledge,” Darragh wrote.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Hall County Sheriff’s Office investigated.
Sheriff Gerald Couch did not immediately respond to a call Tuesday from The Times.
Darragh wrote that Deputy Superintendent Lee Lovett approved the purchase of three guns after they were already purchased, though Lovett did not seem to know full extent of purchases made with school board funds. Lovett also approved the purchase of a drone.
According to the internal affairs report, Roach allegedly told a person in the school finance department when handing in the gun receipts that they were “all super-secret” and the purchases had been “approved by the superintendent and the board.”
One of the purchases was a 65-inch TV that Roach kept in his home “purportedly to monitor the schools after hours,” Darragh wrote.
All of the purchased items have been returned to Hall County, with the weapons secured at the sheriff’s office. The technological items will be used somewhere within the school system.
“After the return of the items purchased, a Hall County detective with internal affairs asked Mr. Lovett through email whether those items were now considered to be ‘authorized purchases,’” Darragh wrote in his letter. Lovett reportedly responded, “That is correct.”
This “would be of significant damage to a prosecution,” Darragh concluded.
“I do remember making that statement,” Lovett told The Times, adding that he was unaware of how it might be used by the district attorney’s office.
He added that the school district has taken steps to ensure there is tighter oversight of employee expenses going forward.
Superintendent Will Schofield had no knowledge of the purchases prior to the audit, according to Darragh’s letter.
“There were some really poor decisions made; none of them appeared to be criminal to me or our board,” Schofield said Tuesday.
News reporters Joshua Silavent and Nick Watson contributed to this article.