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Jim Roberts takes plea deal

James ‘Jim’ Roberts was in court Thursday Feb. 19 in Upson County to face a charge from a GBI investigation into his actions as Molena Police Chief. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of malfeasance and was sentenced by Judge Mac Crawford to 12 months probation, a $1,000 fine and 40 hours community service. Roberts was denied first offender status and agreed to the suspension/revocation of his POST certification. He agreed to never seek employment as a law enforcement officer. ’The biggest concern we have is that he will never, ever serve as an officer in the state of Georgia again,’ said GBI Special Agent Robert DeVane. Defense attorney Virgil Brown and Assistant District Attorney Ben Coker waived any potential conflict which could have arisen from the fact that Judge Crawford lives in Concord – the same city where Roberts was mayor before his arrest. The plea deal was an agreement between the defendant, his attorney, Judge Crawford, the GBI and Coker to allow Roberts to plea guilty to a misdemeanor charge he faced in lieu of the other charges previously brought against him. When arrested, he faced other misdemeanor charges including two counts of solicitation of sodomy, one count of theft by conversion and a felony charge of violation of oath of office. ’We looked at several cases in Upson and Pike County to try to be as consistent as we could,’ said Coker. ‘Of similar cases pulled, two were from Upson County and one was from Pike County when magistrate judge Priscilla Killingsworth faced charges of theft by taking and violation of oath of office. If they want to take a plea before we indict and try them, we will allow them to plea to the misdemeanor and dismiss the felony charges. This is consistent with other cases of this nature that we’ve had in our office.’ Killingsworth pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of one count of unprofessional conduct and was also sentenced to 12 months probation and a $1,000 fine. Roberts was arrested Oct. 15 and according to a GBI press release, the arrest came after a month and a half long investigation into allegations that Roberts solicited several young men for sex and used his position as police chief to gain the trust of the young men. Roberts, who was also the Mayor of Concord, provided one of these young men with his personal code and key to obtain county gas to fill up the young man’s personally owned vehicle. On Aug. 22, Coker, of the Griffin Judicial Circuit, requested the GBI conduct an investigation into allegations against Roberts. The request came after the grandparents of one of the young men, who was allegedly victimized by Roberts, reported the information to the Pike County Sheriff’s Office. The investigation also revealed Roberts sent obscene pictures to a juvenile on his city-funded cell phone. Subsequent to Roberts’ arrest, GBI agents executed search warrants at Roberts’ residence, the Molena Police Department, Molena City Hall, and Concord City Hall. During the court proceedings Feb. 19, it was stated by GBI Special Agent DeVane that a personal computer of Roberts’ which was confiscated during the investigation will be returned to him.

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