Local News

Commissioners: No new sheriff until SBI probe is complete

Posted January 31, 2011 11:01 p.m. EST
Updated January 31, 2011 11:18 p.m. EST

— The Franklin County Board of Commissioners met Monday night and decided not to appoint a new sheriff until a state investigation into missing money at the sheriff's office is complete.

Franklin County Sheriff Pat Green resigned Sunday, one day before the State Bureau of Investigation announced the criminal probe.

Sidney Dunston, chair of the Board of Commissioners, said that Chief Deputy Elliott Pinnell will serve as acting sheriff on an interim basis.

"We have full confidence in our sheriff's department, in the deputies, (in) the chief investigator taking over operations, and the people of Franklin County can rest assured they are just as safe tonight as they were last night or last week," Dunston said.

It wasn't clear how long the SBI investigation would last.

The Franklin County Republican Party asked commissioners to authorize a special election for sheriff instead of an appointment.

"We want it to be made in the best interest of the citizens of the county, not just as a political maneuver," said party chairman Jeremy Neal.

Dunston said that a special election would require a change in rules at the state level.

Sam Currin, the county's district attorney, asked for the SBI investigation, said Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Justice. Agents from elsewhere in the state might need to be brought in to handle the investigation because Green had a close relationship with area SBI agents, officials said.

No details of the investigation, such as how much money was missing and how long it had been gone, were immediately available.

"The first time I heard about the money was this weekend. That was the first that any kind of money had been discussed," said Boyd Sturges, a lawyer for the sheriff's office.

Currin said the missing money was revealed during a routine audit, which has been going on for weeks.