If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Cairo Police Chief Keith Sandefur has resigned his post and is retiring effective at year’s end after turning himself in to authorities Tuesday at approximately 1:30 p.m.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested the veteran city lawman and charged him with two counts of felony theft by conversion.
The arrest stems from a request from Joe Mulholland, district attorney for Southwest Georgia Judicial Circuit District, on Sept. 12, 2019 for the G.B.I. to initiate an investigation into possible criminal conduct by the former chief.
According to G.B.I. Special Agent In Charge Jamy Steinberg, Mulholland had received information about possible criminal activity by the city police chief.
During the course of the investigation, it was discovered that Sandefur allegedly purchased property and charged it to the City of Cairo. The property, which has since been recovered by the G.B.I., had been given to civilian associates of Sandefur’s.
Sources familiar with the G.B.I.’s investigation tell The Messenger the property was firearms purchased by the police chief from a local sporting goods store with city purchase orders.
G.B.I. officials say this case is active and ongoing. Once completed, the case file will be turned over to D.A. Mulholland for his review. Anyone with information is asked to call the G.B.I. at 229-225-4090.
Sandefur, a member of the city police force since April 12, 1980, has served as the police chief since Dec. 12, 1995.
“This is devastating news for the city, the department and for me, personally. However, we have a good department and we will move forward,” Cairo City Manager Chris Addleton said Tuesday.
Sandefur was released from custody Tuesday afternoon after posting a $3,000 bond and met with Addleton a short time later. At the conclusion of the meeting, the chief had decided to resign and retire, according to the city manager.
Addleton is planning to name an interim chief Wednesday and will begin a search for a new chief after the first of the year.
Camilla attorney Jami L. Lewis confirmed to The Messenger Tuesday evening that she is serving as Sandefur’s attorney in the pending criminal matter. The newspaper solicited comments from the chief, but he and his attorney declined to offer comment.
Sandefur’s unexpected resignation and arrest sent shockwaves through the community and comes at a critical time for the city police force. The city is currently in the process of building a new police headquarters on Third Avenue N.W. and Sandefur had played a pivotal role in the planning and design of the new facility.
According to the city manger, approximately 95 percent of the decisions that would involve the chief of police have been made and settled. The new headquarters will open next year.