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Ex-Hall deputy charged with stealing county property
Joel Clifton Ayers

A former Hall County Sheriff’s Office deputy has been charged with stealing county property and violating his oath as an officer.

Joel Clifton Ayers, 35, who served in the jail division, was fired Thursday after authorities learned he had stolen a residential metal air handler, which is part of a heating, ventilating and air-conditioning system, according to the sheriff’s office.

The part was valued at less than $1,500, spokeswoman Deputy Nicole Bailes said.

After discovering the theft, the sheriff’s office requested that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation investigate the matter.

“As a result of that investigation, it was determined that his actions rose to a criminal level,” a sheriff’s office press release stated.

GBI Agents obtained arrest warrants for Ayers on Thursday, and Ayers surrendered Friday at the Hall County Jail. He was booked on one count each of misdemeanor theft by taking and violation of oath of office, a felony.

“Law enforcement officers, like any other citizen, are bound by the laws of our society,” Sheriff Gerald Couch said in the press release. “These types of incidents are the exception among a department of excellent officers and criminal misconduct, by anyone, will not be overlooked or downplayed.”

Ayers, who is free on $4,000 bail, had worked for the sheriff’s office between January 2005 and September 2011. He was rehired on April 30, 2012, when he accepted a position overseeing inmates assigned to work details, the press release states.

Ayers, who lives in Lavonia, couldn’t be reached for comment.

This case remains under investigation by the GBI.

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