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Peach County deputy accused in tractor thefts

FORT VALLEY — A Peach County sheriff’s deputy and a Fort Valley contractor are accused of selling stolen lawn tractors, authorities said.

Cornelius Flowers was charged with one count of theft by taking, three counts of theft by receiving stolen property and three counts of theft by deception, said Craig Rotter, assistant special agent in charge of the GBI’s Perry office.

Flowers, 41, who headed the shared Peach County drug unit, has been under investigation for several months, Rotter said.

Darreyl Bryant, 43, a Fort Valley contractor, also was charged with one count of theft by taking, three counts of theft by receiving stolen property and three counts of theft by deception, Rotter said.

Flowers allegedly helped Bryant sell stolen Kubota and John Deere lawn tractors, including a Kubota lawn tractor stolen March 23 from Walker Rhodes Tractor Co. in Perry. That lawn tractor was recovered in Taylor County, and the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office contacted the Perry Police Department, which was investigating the theft. The agencies contacted the GBI for assistance.

Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese said he was notified by the GBI about the investigation about four months ago.

“It was really hard to believe. I’ve known him (Flowers) all those years and he’s been a really good employee all those years,” Deese said.

After his arrest Aug. 4 by the GBI, Flowers was suspended without pay pending his expected termination, Deese said.

Flowers, who has worked for the sheriff’s office for 19 years, had no prior disciplinary action, the sheriff said. “He’s always been one of our best,” Deese said. “It just goes to show you that even good people make poor decisions.”

Flowers is free on a $62,500 bond, and Bryant is free on a $22,500 bond, Rotter said.

Anyone who may have purchased equipment from Flowers or Bryant is asked to contact the GBI at 987-4545.

Otherwise, should the GBI recover more stolen equipment, the person who has possession of it may be charged with theft by receiving stolen property, Rotter said.

To contact Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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