Wednesday January 22nd, 2020 9:01PM

Forsyth sheriff's candidate announces he's still running for post

By The Associated Press
<p>Gary Beebe is not giving up on his campaign to become Forsyth County sheriff even though he is accused of accepting thousands of dollars in cash last week from undercover FBI informants with the promise of contracts, kickbacks and other special treatment if elected.</p><p>Beebe, 42, has refused to comment about his arrest Tuesday night. The former Forsyth County sheriff's deputy was released from jail the next day on a $15,000 bond.</p><p>His court-appointed attorney said Thursday that Beebe is not dropping out of the sheriff's race. Beebe is the only challenger to incumbent Ted Paxton. Both are Republicans, so voters will choose the sheriff next week.</p><p>"Mr. Beebe remains a candidate for the sheriff of Forsyth County with considerable support," Attorney Natasha Perdew Silas said in a prepared statement.</p><p>This, despite evidence that includes video and audio tapes depicting Beebe making cash deals with informants at undisclosed locations.</p><p>His attorney said Beebe is dedicated to a career in law enforcement. Beebe has 15 years of police work with agencies in Forsyth County, Brunswick and Palmetto.</p><p>"Mr. Beebe has strong faith in the system and looks forward to his ultimate day in court _ at which time we plan to present a vigorous defense," Silas said.</p><p>Federal authorities released the video and audio tapes of Beebe's meetings with informants. The video clips are partially obscured and appear to be shot in a poorly lit office. Beebe is sitting behind a desk in all the videos. It appears the camera was in place before Beebe and the informants entered the room.</p><p>On one of the audio tapes of a July 8 meeting between Beebe and an informant, Beebe is heard saying he will "run roadblock" so the informant and his henchmen can destroy methamphetamine labs in Forsyth County. He also tells the informant to keep any cash or drugs he procures and suggests making it look like a turf war.</p><p>"Lady Justice is blind. I'm not blind," Beebe says, referencing the tendency of some criminals being able to skirt the law on technicalities.</p><p>Later, the informant asks about exacting revenge on a man who once testified against him. Beebe first responds that if the informant lures the man to Forsyth County, "We can send him away for a long time ... and I tell you what, I'd rather be dead than go to prison."</p><p>The informant then suggests shooting the individual. "I figure that's the right way," he says. Beebe says something about the murder going unsolved and when the informant asks Beebe to repeat himself, he says firmly, "If it happens in Forsyth, it will go unsolved. That's what's important."</p><p>Michael Binford, an associate political science professor at Georgia State University, said he doesn't recall a case like this in his 25 years in Georgia.</p><p>"Usually, if corruption is involved, it's someone who's already in office. This is sort of prospective corruption," Binford said. "It would seem virtually impossible for a candidate with these kind of charges to win."</p><p>It's possible Beebe could claim this was a politically motivated attack, Binford said, but it's difficult to believe that the FBI had a personal vendetta against a sheriff's candidate in a county of about 100,000 people.</p><p>Chairman Jim Harrell of the Forsyth County Republican Party said he could not comment on Republican primaries or the charges against Beebe.</p><p>"It's unfortunate if it's true, and very unfortunate if it's not true," Harrell said.</p>
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