Local News

October 2, 2012

Deputy accused of pawning department guns resigns

Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office deputy Chris Hammontree did not give a reason when he resigned Tuesday amid allegations he pawned two guns he was issued for duty and sold another, officials said.

Maj. John Gibson said Hammontree resigned after working at the department for 14 years with what had been a spotless record. The sheriff’s office is wrapping up an internal investigation into evidence officials said shows Hammontree pawned a rifle and a shotgun that belonged to the department at American Pawn on Hamilton Street and sold his issued revolver at Neighborhood Pawn on Cleveland Highway.

“All three guns that were involved in this incident came through Mr. Hammontree’s hands,” Gibson said. “This is the only time I’ve ever seen it happen at the sheriff’s office or here locally.”

A phone number for Hammontree could not be found, and it wasn’t known whether he had an attorney. Since Hammontree resigned in the middle of an investigation, the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST) — which issues certifications and sanctions to law enforcement officers in Georgia — will automatically be notified and likely begin their own investigation, Gibson said. A message left for a POST spokesman wasn’t immediately returned.

Gibson said another sheriff’s office employee discovered the guns through a program in which officers routinely check pawn shop purchases for illegal activity. Gibson said both pawn shop owners have been cooperative and neither is under investigation.

Once the sheriff’s office investigation is complete, the findings will be turned over to District Attorney Bert Poston who will decide whether to press criminal charges, Gibson said.

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