The personnel files of four Bibb County deputies implicated in public corruption cases last week revealed no major previous problems.
The Telegraph reviewed the files of former deputies Jermaine Donnell Hill, Jimmy Lee Denson, Arthur Howard and DeCarlo C. Latimore on Tuesday as allowed under the state’s Open Records Act. All four were charged after FBI stings, which federal prosecutors announced Friday.
Hill, who already has pleaded guilty to theft of government money and making a false statement, resigned from the sheriff’s office. The others, all facing charges of attempted extortion, subsequently were fired by Sheriff David Davis.
If convicted, Denson, Howard and Latimore could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. Hill faces up to six years after his guilty plea.
Hill was charged with taking $1,000 from a Mercedes SUV in November after he checked the vehicle and said it had no money in it. He also was charged with making a false statement.
The Mercedes was part of an FBI sting operation in which the SUV was wired for video and audio, with the $1,000 left in the vehicle by the FBI. Agents had been tipped off about a corrupt deputy.
As part of a plea deal, Hill later helped the FBI with sting operations involving the other three deputies.
Hill, who joined the sheriff’s office in July 2004, wanted to move from patrol to the Criminal Investigations Division, according to a supervisor’s report. He was given satisfactory or favorable marks on most of his evaluations.
In August 2008, his commanding officer wrote a letter commending him and two other deputies for their work in capturing three men with outstanding arrest warrants.
In November 2009, then-Sheriff Jerry Modena awarded a commendation to Hill and several other deputies after the recapture of an escaped prisoner.
“Your willingness to go the extra mile and work throughout the night to make sure that a dangerous criminal who had escaped from the Bibb County Jail was returned to custody is an example for your peers to emulate,” the commendation read in part.
Earlier in 2009, Hill received a written reprimand for not filling out his reports on a computer. It was the lone negative mark in his file.
Hill helped with the sting on Latimore on Feb. 28, 2014, when an undercover agent posed as a drug dealer in a car equipped with audio and video recording equipment. The agent had $2,000 and some cocaine.
Latimore drove his patrol car to an arranged meeting place, planning to rob the person he thought was a drug dealer. Hill, who was working with the FBI, made a traffic stop on the undercover agent’s vehicle. He and Latimore searched the car, and Latimore put $1,000 in his boot.
Latimore and the undercover Hill gave the cocaine to a local drug dealer with the understanding that they would receive a portion of the proceeds when the drugs were sold. On April 17, Latimore went to the sheriff’s office’s substation on Shurling Drive to pick up his $500 take. He was in uniform.
Latimore joined the sheriff’s office in 2007 to work at the jail, then took a job as a patrolman with the Macon Police Department in 2009.
In May, Latimore was singled out for praise when he apprehended a burglary suspect at the Lakeview Club Apartments. He took the initiative to question the staff at a nearby store and trace stolen items back to an apartment at the complex.
“If it had not been for Deputy Latimore (sic) professionalism, dedication and his initiative to take steps further to solve the burglary at Dollar General, the burglary may still be unsolved,” the report read.
Latimore received a written reprimand from the police department in November 2010 after a complainant alleged that Latimore falsely arrested him.
In Denson’s case, an undercover agent posing as a drug dealer met Hill and Denson at a prearranged location March 20. With $2,000 and cocaine in the car, Hill and Denson searched the car and only let the supposed drug dealer leave after he agreed to leave behind the drugs and the money, which the deputies split.
The deputies gave the drugs to a dealer to sell, again with the understanding that they would get part of the proceeds. Denson, in uniform, met Hill on April 25 off Riverside Drive to get his $500 from the deal.
Denson joined the sheriff’s office in September 2001. His file contained several letters from community members praising him for how he handled his duties in specific instances, such as his calm demeanor in working with a troubled youth at the Methodist Children’s Home in 2005 and his work in helping an accident victim last September. His performance reviews were mostly positive, with comments such as “outstanding candidate for future development.”
In November 2004, Denson was suspended for a day after he gave someone protected information regarding the jail record of a former inmate. He tried to transfer from the jail to a patrol job in 2005, but he failed his first training class. Denson later transferred to patrol in 2008.
Howard, a former Macon police officer, was the highest-ranking member of the group, having served as an investigator with the rank of sergeant.
On June 9, undercover agents who were posing as a pimp and two prostitutes met Howard at a motel room, where he was recorded while the agent posing as a pimp described his need for protection from the law. Howard agreed to help and explained law enforcement surveillance techniques.
Howard also gave information about a drug investigation he had been involved in.
Before leaving, Howard received $200 and acknowledged that he would provide protection for additional money.
Howard joined the narcotics unit in the police department in 2007. In one of his performance reviews, his supervisor wrote, “There is no better investigator on the unit that can utilize information resources in a time sensitive situation than Inv. Howard.”
Howard was one of several officers praised by Secretary of State Brian Kemp in 2010 for work in closing down Macon’s massage parlors, and he was selected by the command staff as Officer of the Month in May 2008. Later that year, the Bibb County District Attorney’s Office praised Howard and several other investigators in their work to foil a plot to kill two witnesses in a pending court case.
Howard’s lone blemish on his record before his arrest came in May 2008, when he was suspended for one day when he left an undercover vehicle unattended during a bust and the vehicle was stolen.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.