A Summerville, Ga., couple is suing the Chattooga County sheriff claiming that he allowed a detective to search their home using a forged search warrant.
Mark and Connie Gordon claim Detective Kandy Dodd deceived a magistrate judge into signing a warrant to search their house without any probable cause and that Sheriff John Everett supervised the decision, according to the federal lawsuit filed in Rome, Ga.
The suit also claims this isn’t the first time Everett has encouraged one of his employees to give false statements to obtain a search warrant.
Everett declined comment, citing the pending lawsuit, while Dodd couldn’t be reached for comment.
Both Everett and Dodd are named in the suit, which doesn’t ask for a specific amount of money but does ask for a jury trial.
The lawsuit also said the sheriff has a “practice and custom of encouraging the making of false statements in obtaining a search warrant.”
The Gordons’ attorney, Bobby Lee Cook — a well-known Georgia defense attorney — called the case an example of corruption, but declined to comment on the specifics.
Cook said Everett and Dodd had until the end of Wednesday to respond to the suit. But their attorney, Steve Rodham, could not be reached by phone Wednesday.
The lawsuit claims that, on April 14, Dodd first obtained a search warrant through the magistrate’s office to look through Fleetwood’s Pawn shop, which the Gordons own in Trion, Ga. The warrant claimed that several items from burglaries had been sold through the shop.
But the lawsuit alleges Dodd then went back to get a second search warrant, telling the judge that the first warrant had an error and needed to be changed. Instead, the lawsuit claims, Dodd had written the Gordons’ home address in the place of the pawn shop address.
“Dodd knowingly, unlawfully and corruptly, or at least recklessly, misrepresented to the magistrate judge” the difference with the warrants, the lawsuit states.
No probable cause existed to search the Gordons’ house, the suit states.
After the judge had signed the second warrant, Everett dispatched two deputies to guard the entrance to the Gordons’ house, the suit claims. For at least an hour, the Gordons’ housekeeper was kept inside as deputies first searched her, then the entire house, according to the suit.
Several personal items were taken and many haven’t been returned, the suit claims.
Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...