JEFFERSONVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A former sheriff's major in middle Georgia has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge after stealing cash held as evidence.
WMAZ-TV reports that Twiggs County court records show William “Chip” Stokes pleaded guilty on Tuesday to stealing less than $1,500.
Stokes, formerly a major with the Twiggs County Sheriff's Office, may serve his six months' sentence on probation.
He avoided mandatory jail time because Twiggs County Superior Court Judge Jon Helton sentenced Stokes as a first offender.
As part of his plea bargain, Stokes is giving up his law enforcement certification and agreeing not to seek reinstatement as a police officer in Georgia or any other state.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested Stokes on Jan. 26, the day after he was fired, accusing him of taking more than $1,500 that had come from a suspect in a December traffic stop and had been stored in the evidence room after being counted and packaged. The money turned up missing in January.
Because the amount was more than $1,500, that was a felony theft charge. Stokes was also charged with violating his oath of office.
It’s unclear why Stokes was allowed to plead to a misdemeanor. Assistant District Attorney Peter Fred Larson declined to comment.