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Washington County sheriff fires daughter, son-in-law over alleged drug use

Becky Campbell • Updated Nov 29, 2017 at 5:32 PM

Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal fired his daughter and son-in-law last week after discovering communications between them discussing their use of illegal drugs, a department spokesperson confirmed Wednesday.

Shelly Graybeal and her husband, Scott Johnson, who had each worked at the sheriff’s office for more than a decade, were terminated from their employment Nov. 20, Chief Operations Officer Leighta Laitinen said.

“We discovered communication between them on a messenger app that revealed they had been using meth” and other narcotics, Laitinen said. There was no indication or evidence the two possessed or used drugs while working, she said.

Graybeal, who was hired in 2004 by her father after he became sheriff, was a timekeeper. Her job was to calculate the amount of time county inmates had served. Johnson, a detention officer, started working at the sheriff’s office in 2001.

His duties were to escort inmates to and from court and guard them in the holding cell area behind the courtrooms.

Laitinen said as soon as she told Graybeal what she had learned, he was unwavering in his decision to fire the two.

“He said, ‘Well, they can’t work here. They have to go,’ ” Laitinen said. The sheriff went to inform his family about the discovery, then returned to the office to follow through with the terminations.

“It was difficult,” Laitinen, who was present when the sheriff fired the two, said. “He was disappointed, he was hurt, he was still in shock. He said ‘I’ve spent my entire career putting drug dealers in jail and you’re out here giving them my money.’ ”

Laitinen said the sheriff could have given his daughter and Johnson the opportunity to resign, but he didn’t.

“He did the right thing,” Laitinen said.

Two days after the firing, Shelly Graybeal was pulled over for speeding by a Washington County deputy, and after officers claimed they smelled marijuana, they conducted a search of her car.

According to the citation filed in Washington County General Sessions Court, a K9 alerted on Graybeal’s purse, where officers found two pills. One was identified as a Lorazepam and the other was identified as oxycodone. She was issued a citation for two counts of simple possession, which are misdemeanor charges.

As a precaution, Laitinen said the department is checking all county inmates’ time served to ensure no one was released early or had to serve any more time than they were sentenced.

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