A 14-year veteran of the Whitfield County Sheriff's Office could face criminal charges after allegations that he pawned his county-issued weapons for cash.
Authorities said Chris Hammontree, a patrol deputy, is on paid leave while the sheriff's office investigates whether he pawned his rifle and shotgun at American Pawn shop in Dalton, Ga.
Each officer is issued a handgun, rifle and shotgun at the department, said Maj. John Gibson, and the officer is responsible for taking care of the weapons but doesn't own them.
When the sheriff's office pawn unit was checking local shop records, they found Hammontree's name on the list and an internal affairs investigation was opened, Gibson said. Authorities discovered Hammontree had pawned the guns in exchange for a loaned amount of money, but they didn't say how much.
Hammontree could face a charge of theft by conversion for taking somebody else's property for his personal benefit, Gibson said.
The deputy has talked with investigators about what happened, but Gibson said he couldn't say why the weapons were pawned because it's an open investigation.
A telephone number couldn't be found for Hammontree, and he didn't respond to requests for comment on social media.
When the investigation is finished, authorities said, they will take administrative action and the case will be turned over to Conasauga District Attorney Bert Poston to decide whether the officer should be charged. Poston declined to comment Tuesday, saying he hadn't seen the case yet.
Joy Lukachick is a crime reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered breaking news, high-profile trials, stories of lost lives and of regained hope and done investigative work. Raised near the Bayou, Joy’s hometown is along the outskirts of Baton Rouge, La. She has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Louisiana State University. While at LSU, Joy was a staff writer for the Daily Reveille. When Joy isn't chasing down ...