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FRIDAY, MARCH 16, 2007
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Sheriff disciplines chief drug agent

By Seth Burkett
sburkett@decaturdaily.com 340-2355

Sheriff Greg Bartlett will neither confirm nor deny that he has removed Lt. George Rutherford as head of the Morgan County Drug Task Force.

Bartlett did say that Lt. Howard Battles has been reassigned to oversee all investigations units, including the drug task force.

Bartlett said he took disciplinary action after Rutherford, his estranged wife and his brother filed reports with the Sheriff's Department. He would not release details from the narrative portions of those reports.

On March 1, Rutherford's brother, Ed Rutherford, filed a harassment report. In a 911 call from Ed Rutherford's home on Lawrence Cove Road, the caller told a dispatcher, "I had someone complain, say they were going to come down here to my place and cause some trouble."

The call was transferred to the sheriff's dispatch. Bartlett said he would not release the call without a subpoena.

George Rutherford's wife, Kellie Rutherford, had filed a criminal mischief report the previous day alleging her spouse was responsible for dents and paint scratches to her vehicle.

On March 9, George Rutherford filed a harassing communications report against his wife.

The couple have been separated since January 2006 and George Rutherford is seeking a divorce, court documents show.

Attempts to reach Ed, George and Kellie Rutherford were unsuccessful .

Bartlett said his office conducted an investigation and concluded that Rutherford committed a rule violation. He would not say what rule he violated.

The reports involved family or domestic issues and not all three reports were specifically linked to any disciplinary action taken against Rutherford, Bartlett said. No criminal charges were filed, and Rutherford was not on the clock when he violated department rules, Bartlett said.

"The guy has put 17 years into the sheriff's office, and he's been a good employee," Bartlett said. "He's probably been one of the most aggressive officers in stamping out methamphetamines in Morgan County or in North Alabama. He's probably one of the most effective. So I'm not going to kick him because he's going through some rough times."

Dan Sansing with the county personnel board said he has not been notified of any appeal by Rutherford.

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