SCSO denies requesting GBI leak investigation

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

Following the Dec. 7 publication of an article citing the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office’s request for a GBI investigation regarding a confidential source that provided information to this newspaper, The GRIP learned the SCSO is denying having made that request.
After speaking with GBI Region 2 Special Agent in Charge Fred Wimberly, but prior to running that article, The GRIP attempted to reach Capt. Tony Ranieri, head of the SCSO Criminal Investigation Division, and Sheriff Wendell Beam by phone and email, respectively. Neither responded to The GRIP’s attempts to make contact regarding this issue.
Meanwhile, The GRIP also submitted an Open Records request seeking information on a Nov. 30 request for a GBI investigation pertaining to the confidential source who provided this publication with a GPS tracker report associated with a November 2012 narcotics operation. It was in response to that Open Records request that officials of the SCSO denied requesting a GBI investigation in this matter.
According to an email from Agency Administrator Lt. Laurie Littlejohn, “No official request was made to the GBI for an official investigation on Nov. 30, 2015, nor has there been any official request made to them.”
Asked what type of request was made to the GBI regarding the GPS tracker report, Littlejohn stated, “They were asked if information were released from the Sheriff’s Office without authorization, would that be a criminal offense.”
She later reiterated, “An investigation was not requested. A question was asked.”
Upon receiving this email correspondence, The GRIP again contacted Wimberly, who maintains his office did and continues to perceive the SCSO’s inquiry as a request to investigate.
“On our end, it could be perceived to be a request. Just to put it bluntly, when a Sheriff’s Office or someone calls us with case-related information, if we deem it’s not going to be criminal, then technically, on our end, we’re basically denying investigating the case because there’s nothing we see that’s criminal,” Wimberly said. “If you want to play on words, you can, but you know, from our perspective, a request was made.”
As of this edition’s Dec. 21 press time, neither Beam nor Ranieri have responded to The GRIP’s Dec. 8 requests for comment on this matter.

Publisher’s note: To read the first article related to the Sheriff’s Office request for a GBI investigation that was published Dec. 7, 2016, please visit https://the-grip.net/2015/12/15/gbi-declined-sheriffs-request/.

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