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Former Hawkins narcotics officer takes plea deal

Jeff Bobo • Jul 31, 2012 at 2:59 AM

ROGERSVILLE -- Former Hawkins County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Detective Brad Depew should have known he was being filmed when he burglarized the department's evidence locker several times in March and April 2011 and stole drugs.

A high-ranking member of the department told the Times-News Monday that Depew, 43, 251 Barrett Lane, Church Hill, helped design the HCSO's video surveillance system prior to the opening of the new Justice Center in 2010.

On Monday morning, Depew pleaded guilty to 75 counts related to those burglaries and drug thefts -- as well as drug possession including 26 grams of cocaine, digital scales, a wide variety of pills, and a small amount of methamphetamine that was discovered during an April 21, 2011, search of Depew's home.

The plea agreement calls for a 10-year sentence, but that sentence won't be imposed until after a sentencing hearing scheduled on Nov. 26 before specially appointed Judge Tom Wright.

Defense attorney Rick Spivey told the judge he intends to apply for a judicial diversion and/or other alternative sentencing.

The plea agreement offers no guarantees regarding alternative sentencing. A judicial diversion would require Depew to serve a certain amount of time on probation, after which his record would be expunged.

Specially appointed Prosecutor Gene Perrin of Sullivan County told the Times-News after Monday's guilty plea he will study the results of a presentencing report to be completed on Depew before deciding whether or not to oppose Spivey's application for judicial diversion.

Depew told the judge during his guilty plea allocution Monday that the burglaries, drug thefts and drug possession stemmed from his own illegal drug use, which was a result of him suffering from depression.

Depew said the drugs were for personal use and not for resale, including the 26 grams of cocaine, which had a street value of $2,600, and unspecified quantities of oxycodone, methadone, dihydrocodeinone, alprazolam, diazepam and clonazepam seized from his home.

Narcotics found missing after one of Depew's evidence locker break-ins included 175 oxycodone pills, 79 grams of methadone, and 84.5 methadone pills from one specific criminal case.

The defendant who those drugs were originally seized from pleaded guilty in March to reduced charges attributed directly to Depew's thefts.

That defendant was sentenced to 120 days in jail and five years on house arrest -- as opposed to a minimum eight-year sentence typically handed out to defendants in similar cases.

Depew's allocution Monday also didn't address his reason for possessing digital scales.

Depew pleaded guilty to all his original charges except for the Class B felony possession of cocaine for resale and the Class B felony possession of meth for resale -- both of which were reduced to misdemeanor possession charges.

Other charges he pleaded guilty to included 47 counts of tampering with evidence, seven counts of burglary, five counts of possession of burglary tools, five counts of theft under $500, felony official misconduct, and eight counts of misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance.

Aside from a 10-year sentence, the plea agreement calls for a fine of $8,650.

Depew was allowed to remain free on his same $100,000 bond until the Nov. 26 hearing.

A member of the HCSO for more than 22 years, Depew also worked as a detective on the HCSO Narcotics Unit and 3rd Judicial District Drug Task Force for more than a decade. He was reassigned to a night shift road deputy position shortly after Sheriff Ronnie Lawson's election in August 2010.

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