Former Sheriff and Officer Charged with Forgery

by Staff on June 7, 2007 · 4 comments

in Local

From the Herald-Times:

BEDFORD — Criminal forgery charges were filed against former Lawrence County Sheriff Kent Hawkins and former police officer John L. Potter today.

Hawkins, of Bedford, was charged with forgery, a Class C felony, and two counts of official misconduct, Class D felonies. Potter, of Bedford, faces a Class C felony charge of forgery.

The charges were filed in Lawrence Circuit Court. Neither had yet been arrested on the allegations as of 4:30 p.m.

According to probable cause affidavits in the case, Hawkins and Potter admitted forging the signatures of other Lawrence County police officers on weapon ‘buyback” forms.

“The buyback program is used when a department purchases new duty weapons and it allows those officers who receive new duty weapons to purchase their old weapons at a reduced cost,” the affidavits state. “(Indiana State Police) Detective (Dana) Miller reported that the handguns not purchased by the officers were to be traded to Kieslers (a supply house) for credit to be applied toward the purchase of new guns by the Lawrence County Police Department.”

Officials accuse the former sheriff and officer of taking home guns that weren’t bought back, rather than turning them over to the supply house.

While serving a searching warrant at Hawkins’ home, police found several weapons relating to the forged signatures.

“According to Detective Miller, on or about February 2005, a court order was issued authorizing the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department to take possession of approximately 122 firearms and to hold such firearms as property of the department,” Hawkins’ affidavit stated. “Detective Miller reported that these firearms were released by a court order under the impression that the firearms would be used by the department, destroyed or traded for ammunition for the Lawrence County Police Department.”

“Detective Miller reported that Hawkins transported these firearms to his residence where he kept some of the guns and sold some of the guns. During the execution of the search warrant, approximately 72 firearms from the 2005 court order were found in the residence of Kent Hawkins.”

Money from the sale of the guns was not given to the Lawrence County Police Department. Hawkins’ official misconduct charges resulted after he reportedly failed to deliver 72 guns, a snowplow for an all-terrain vehicle, a camera and a gun boot to the department on Dec. 31. He also is accused of holding 13 guns seized by Greene, Owen, Monroe and Brown counties, with the intention of keeping them for himself.

Hawkins left office on Dec. 31 after serving as sheriff for eight years. Potter worked at the department for nine years before resigning on May 18.

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