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Sheriff's documents found in car with felons

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

Two convicted felons were caught speeding, according to Clayton County Police, with sensitive Sheriff's Office documents in the glove box.

Jacques Cortez Smith, 19, and Brandyn Keith Matthis, 22, both of Jonesboro, were allegedly going north on Interstate 75, on Sunday, at 80 miles an hour.

When Officer M.A. Niedbalski stopped the pair, pulling over the maroon, 1998 Nissan Pathfinder, Smith was discovered to be wanted on an allegation of probation violation. Allegedly, both men illegally had handguns -- one a .40-caliber High Point and one a .22-caliber Taurus -- stashed under their seats, police said.

They also allegedly had a stack of computer print-outs from the sheriff's office.

Smith opened the glove compartment, according to police reports, to get the insurance card to show the police officer, and out tumbled the stack of highly-sensitive paperwork which, according to Georgia law, can't leave the sheriff's office.

Documents, all dated June 15, included Georgia Crime Information Center inquiries and inmate lists, according to police reports.

"You're supposed to shred this stuff," said Officer Sonja Sanchez, police department spokesperson. "It's not supposed to leave the room, let alone the building ... Here, you had two known criminals privileged to these very sensitive documents."

The information could be misused in identity theft, Sanchez said, or could give criminal enterprises restricted information about other criminals, suspects and witnesses.

Smith, questioned about the stack of paper, said his uncle's girlfriend, who owned the vehicle, worked for the sheriff's office.

The woman told police "she had taken them home and they were in a bag left in her vehicle. She did not know how they got into her glove box."

The woman -- who has not been identified by police -- did not say why she needed the sensitive documents at home, or why she lent her vehicle to her boyfriend's nephew, who was wanted by the sheriff's office.

Sheriff Victor Hill could not immediately be reached for comment.

Letting the documents leave the sheriff's office is punishable by 15 years in prison and a $50,000 fine, under state law.

Charges have not yet been filed against the sheriff's office employee.