Former Walthourville Police Chief Terry Harget has been arrested for theft of government funds and violation of oath of office in metro Atlanta, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Bartow County District Attorney Rosemary Greene requested the GBI initiate an investigation concerning misconduct by Harget, now the Euharlee police chief, and that city’s assistant chief, Richard Smith, the GBI said in a news release issued Thursday.
Harget and Smith also were employed by the Bartow County School System as crossing guards in an off-duty capacity. The investigation revealed that Harget and Smith were being paid for performing the off-duty assignment while also receiving on-duty pay from the city of Euharlee, the release says.
The investigation also determined that Harget was receiving pay from the Bartow County School Police while having on-duty Euharlee officers perform the crossing-guard duty for which Harget was being paid, the GBI said.
The school system said in a separate news release Thursday that Bartow County Campus Police Chief Dan Knowles contacted the GBI earlier this month “after noticing irregularities with the officers on duty.”
The district paid $25 per day for each officer. At first, the system contracted with the Euharlee Police Department for one officer each day, but increased that to two officers about a year ago, the system’s release says.
The contract to assist with traffic control at two Bartow County schools began “after budget cuts created layoffs in the school system’s campus police department approximately three years ago,” the district said.
“I am disappointed and saddened by the alleged actions that led up to this point,” School System Superintendent John Harper said in the release. “However, now that the situation is out of our hands, we will await the judicial process.”
Walthourville Mayor Daisy Pray, whom Harget served under since the department’s inception in March 2009 until he left in January 2012, said she was shocked to hear of Harget’s arrest.
“The chief is a very smart man, and I can’t see him getting caught up is something like this,” Pray said. “Harget was very community-oriented and set up programs to reach out to our senior community. As far as I’m concerned, people need to remember he is innocent until proven guilty.”
Harget and Smith turned themselves in at the Bartow County Jail.