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Carter County Sheriff's Department makes child support payment

John Thompson • May 3, 2018 at 9:02 PM

ELIZABETHTON — A modern sheriff’s department has a lot of expenses, from paying salaries for deputies, equipping them and providing them with vehicles, operating a jail and maintaining communications. But the Carter County Jail also had to make a child support payment recently.

Sheriff Dexter Lunceford said the payment was made after a jail trusty gained control of a sealed envelope containing $250 in child support money a father had dropped off March 23.

Lunceford said a dispatcher who is no longer employed at the department took the payment on behalf of Chancery Court, sealed it in a bag and dropped it in the bond safe located in the secure dispatch office of the Carter County Jail.

According to a security camera in the dispatch office, the bond payment was dropped in the safe at 11:48 p.m. on March 23. The video shows that jail trusty Dennis William Harvey came into the dispatch office at 3:30 a.m. to clean.

According to department report, the child support payment envelope had apparently not fallen into the safe from the drop slot. The report said a video “clearly shows inmate Harvey take that bond/cash out of the safe and put it in a black trash bag. Inmate Harvey then takes the bag and exits the dispatch office.”

Lunceford said a dispatcher was in the office at the time, but did not see the envelope or Harvey’s alleged activity.

After reviewing the video, Capt. Jeff Markland interviewed Harvey. Markland said Harvey initially denied he had taken the money, but when he was confronted with the video evidence, he confessed.

Markland then asked Harvey what he had done with the money. Markland reported that Harvey told him he had become frightened and had just thrown it in the dumpster.

Markland said he learned from talking to other inmates that Harvey had not thrown the money away and had been seen with the money. Markland then had another talk with Harvey.

He said this time Harvey told him he had not thrown the money away at the time he first spoke with Markland. He said that after the first interview he had gotten scared and flushed the money down the toilet.

Markland told Harvey that he would be charged with theft and tampering with evidence.

Lunceford said Harvey has not yet been charged, but will be on a presentment to the next meeting of the Carter County grand jury. Lunceford said it will also be requested that Harvey make resitituion for the sheriff’s department money used to make the child support payment. Lunceford said the funds had been taken from a miscellaneous account.

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