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By: Robin Ford Wallace, Reporter


When the Sentinel made an open records request for any purchases made on the county’s behalf by outgoing Sheriff Patrick Cannon during the last months of his administration, credit card records for $3600 spent at clothing retailers turned up (see accompanying article).  So did a couple of other odd-looking items.

But one that may have puckered a few brows at the county commission office seemed to check out as routine.  What, some may have asked, was Dade County doing buying a $2495 K-9 automotive dog kennel, with heat-alert system and pager, for Georgia State Patrol Post 41? 

The charge was made on the county credit card of Capt. David Duvall, who runs Dade’s jail.  Duvall told the Sentinel he didn’t make the charge and to ask the former sheriff about it.

Cannon did not return phone calls, but the Sentinel was able to talk to with GSP Cpl. Andrew Gideon and his supervisor, Sgt. James McConathy, and both assured the Sentinel the kennel purchase was nothing out of the ordinary. 

“They donated that to us,” said Gideon.  “That’s just one of the things Dade County has donated.”

Since the Patrol does not receive revenues from the fines and citations its services generates in local precincts, said Gideon and McConathy, GSP depends on the law enforcement agencies of counties and towns it serves to chip in.  “That’s how we get most of our equipment,” said McConathy.

Donations are carefully reviewed by officials at the state level before they are accepted, he said, and they are usually paid for from special drug-money funds.

A notation on the invoice for the item specifies it is to be paid for by “Drug Education Fund #130.”

Another bill charged to the county by the former sheriff, however, is more mysterious, and as such remains so far unpaid.  Thomas University wants $3,368 from Dade County for student James Patrick Cannon for outstanding fall 2011 charges.

The university is located in Thomasville, which is in southern Georgia, 55 miles south of Albany and 35 miles north of Tallahassee, Florida.  The invoice it sent specified charges of $3000 for six hours of tuition and fees of  $158 for matriculation, $60 for technology and $150 for graduation.

Dade County Executive Ted Rumley said the county regularly pays for job-related education and training for its law officers but that this appears to be for education the former sheriff undertook independently.  He said he’d been unable to learn much from Thomas University because of privacy policies but that he understood the tuition to be for courses in English, math and history.  He said he’d been told the university specialized in helping students obtain associate’s degrees.

The Sentinel did not check into the former sheriff’s educational background, but retrieved from its election-season notes that Cannon said in a May 29 debate he held a college degree in law enforcement.

Rumley said the county wouldn’t pay the tuition bill until it knew what it was for.

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