Swicord

Sgt. First Class Blake Swicord, commander of the Milledgeville post of the Georgia State Patrol, is on administrative leave with pay pending an internal investigation related to policy violations.

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — An internal probe into possible departmental policy violations by Sgt. First Class Kendel Blake Swicord of the Milledgeville Georgia State Patrol post has revealed several allegations including a close association with a convicted felon at two businesses in downtown Milledgeville.

Other allegations included in the 523-page internal document, obtained by The Union-Recorder under the Georgia Open Records Act, contend that Swicord sold a handgun to that same convicted felon. Swicord reportedly purchased the 45-caliber handgun from the Georgia Department of Public Safety on Oct. 13, 2014, records show.

The internal document also includes information that Swicord worked special security details for country music star Luke Bryan during the Luke Bryan Farm Tour, even though he had been denied permission to work such concerts by superiors within the GSP.

There also was an occasion where Swicord reportedly had a ticket fixed for a female friend of his who received the citation at Tybee Island near Savannah, according to the internal probe documents.

Several other allegations also were made against Swicord in the internal probe, including sending sexually explicit messages to women as well as photographs. 

The internal probe was conducted by the Georgia Department of Public Safety. The documents detail allegations that Swicord violated several departmental policies and was launched immediately after FBI agents raided the local nightclub known as Capital City, as well as the Chop House restaurant, located on South Wayne Street in Milledgeville, last Feb. 28. Raids, believed to be tied to the same investigation, also were conducted that same day at a residence in Statesboro, as well as several businesses in south Georgia.

Swicord reportedly admitted to a business relationship and friendship with Trey Britt, who has some type of ownership connection to the local nightclub and restaurant and is closely associated with Bryan, the country music star, who used to perform at Capital City. 

Britt, who was convicted in 1999 on burglary and kidnapping charges and who received a pardon in 2011, is believed to be one of the targets of the ongoing investigation by federal authorities, according to law enforcement sources.

The FBI has not revealed the exact nature of its probe nor has anyone been arrested in connection with illegal activities at the club. No one has reportedly been indicted by a federal grand jury on criminal charges related to the investigation.   

Swicord has been on administrative leave with pay since the probe by FBI and agents with the Internal Revenue Service, which remained ongoing as of Thursday. 

Contrary to some media reports, Swicord was not terminated Thursday.

Capt. Mark S. Perry, public information director for the Georgia Department of Public Safety and GSPl, said Swicord remains suspended with pay pending a decision by Lt. Col. Russell Powell.

In a copy of an email from Lt. Col. Powell to Swicord, he said the suspension with pay would continue until he rendered his decision regarding proposed action recommended by Maj. Tommy Waldrop, commanding officer for the GSP.

“Pursuant to Policy Statement 8.01.4.B.2, I am extending the effective date of the proposed action,” Powell said in his email.

The effective date of the proposed termination for Swicord with the GSP had been set for Thursday.

Swicord, who has worked with the GSP since being hired as a cadet trooper Feb. 18, 2001, served as commander of the post in Dublin prior to becoming the post commander in Milledgeville.

The internal investigation also included a 29-page summary with information never before made public.

On March 2, Maj. Waldrop said he was notified by FBI Special Agent Stanley Slater that weapons previously owned by the Georgia Department of Public Safety had been discovered by FBI agents during the execution of a search warrant at Capital City and the Chop House.

Slater indicated that the guns were in the possession of a man identified as Eugene Reagan Britt III, whom the FBI said had a prior criminal record.

That information led to an immediate administrative investigation as ordered by Maj. Waldrop to Capt. Les Wilburn, who is with Office of Professional Standards.

On March 3, Swicord was informed that he was involved in an administrative investigation regarding an allegation of misconduct against him.

That same day, Capt. Allen Marlowe, who heads Troop E with the GSP, informed Swicord that he was being placed on administrative leave with pay pending the internal probe.

Marlowe later retrieved Swicord’s iPhone and his Panasonic Toughbook Mobile Data Terminal, which subsequently were turned over to Capt. Wilburn on March 14 and then given to Brentwood Smith, deputy director of computer services for forensic analysis.

Six days later, Wilburn interviewed Marlowe about a conversation he had with Swicord on March 2 — the same time that Swicord was told he was being placed on administrative leave with pay, effective immediately.

Marlowe collected Swicord’s Georgia Department of Public Safety identification card, as well as his departmental-issued weapons and post keys, along with his state-issued electronic equipment. 

The conversation between the two men took place at the GSP post in Milledgeville.

During that time, Swicord apologized for how he had embarrassed the Georgia Department of Public Safety, according to the probe documents. Swicord reportedly said he knew the situation looked bad, but promised he had not done anything wrong.

“Sgt. First Class Swicord began to explain the matter to Capt. Marlowe, but Capt. Marlowe told  SFC Swicord he did not want to get into his business,” according to the internal investigation documents. “Capt. Marlowe perceived SFC Swicord wanted to get something off his chest.”

Marlowe told Wilburn that Swicord told him that the FBI “had screwed up the search warrant” because they had searched the building, as if it were one business when it actually was multiple domiciles. Marlowe added that Swicord also told him that FBI agents had no right to enter into some apartments at the local businesses and all that evidence “would be thrown out” in court.

Swicord also reportedly told Marlowe during that same conversation that Trey Britt was “no angel,” but that his friend had had his rights reinstated to carry with a concealed weapon permit. Swicord also reportedly told Marlowe that he had sold the gun to Britt, but that he did not make a profit from the sale. Swicord also contended that Britt had shown him a copy of his concealed firearm carry permit before he sold him the gun.

Marlowe told Wilburn that Swicord described Britt as “a big law enforcement supporter” and had provided specific information about how his friend had helped law enforcement over the years and how Britt had allowed troopers with the Milledgeville post to have a Christmas party at the Chop House restaurant.

Marlowe also informed Wilburn that Swicord had indicated to him that he was worried about policy violations associated with the Georgia Department of Public Safety politics, such as outside employment and code of conduct, specifically referring the code as it pertains to associating with an individual with a criminal background.

“SFC Swicord told Capt. Marlowe about his investment into a restaurant years ago that he and other prominent businessmen in Milledgeville had invested,” according to the internal investigation document. “SFC Swicord claimed all he had received in return for his investment in the restaurant since that time was half-priced meals.”

 

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