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Investigators: DeKalb chief falsified records to hide cars
By JIM WALLS
April 21, 2009 — Former DeKalb Police Chief Terrell Bolton told a subordinate to falsify police records to hide two luxury cars that the chief took home for personal use, investigative records show.
Bolton kept the cars – a $32,000 Range Rover and a $55,000 Mercedes Benz – at home for much of 2008, investigators with the DeKalb Sheriff’s Department said. Tip Green, an officer overseeing the motor office, told investigators he “hid” the cars on the Police Department’s books, at Bolton’s direction, by placing them in two unrelated cost centers.
“Tip was asked if he was directed by Bolton to falsify records in hiding the cars,” according to investigators’ notes of an interview with Green. “He said yes. Bolton said to hide them and that he did not want them s[h]owing up in his cost center.”
Green said he visited Bolton’s home periodically to service the cars and took them out every other week for detailing. Once, the county paid for a $110 detailing, Green said.
Green told investigators he questioned Bolton about his use of the cars. “He said that Bolton would tell him, ‘I am the chief … I can drive what I choose to drive,’” the report said.
AtlantaUnfiltered obtained the investigative report, compiled for DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis, through a request under the Georgia Open Records Act.
Bolton, who was fired in February, has said he took the cars home to keep them out of sight and prevent another agency from claiming them. The cars had been seized as part of a drug prosecution.
But Maj. C.A. Craddock, who had been driving the Range Rover, told investigators that Bolton took his wheels after admiring them at a community meeting in March 2008.
“Bolton commented to him what a nice car it was,” the report said. “Bolton said that his daughter really liked the car. Two days later, a call was placed to him saying that Bolton wanted the car. He did not question the chief’s request for the car.”
The major said Bolton told him he took the cars because they were not being used for undercover work as they should have been. Craddock acknowledged he had been driving the Range Rover for his personal use.
In addition to the two luxury cars, the report said Bolton assigned himself seven police cars for his use and his drivers’ — three Crown Victorias, two Chevy Suburbans, a Ford Expedition and a Charger. Three were found at Bolton’s home when the chief was placed on leave in February.
A deputy chief told investigators he believed Bolton had a car fetish, and Green said the chief was particular about his transportation. He ordered new seats, new carpet and a new grill for one of the Crown Vics because he didn’t like the color of the seats, Green said.
Green said Bolton had a reputation for paranoia. The chief ordered the luxury cars moved from his garage, Green told investigators, “when the story started getting hot on the ‘blog’” in November 2008. At the time, anonymous postings on the Web site DeKalb Officers Speak referenced Bolton’s various vehicles.
Green and Deputy Chief Donald Frank moved the two cars from Bolton’s home to Frank’s residence in Walton County. But Bolton “went off” later that month and ordered the cars moved to police headquarters when he heard Frank was seen driving one of them, Green said in the report.
Deputy Chief Karen Anderson told investigators that Bolton chewed her out when she told him that federal law prohibited his driving a seized luxury car for his personal use.
Anderson said Bolton also resisted when she and others told him that it was illegal for Keisha Williams, the chief’s top civilian aide, to drive a fully loaded vehicle with a police radio.
“Bolton said that he did not care and told Tip to mind his own business,” the report said.