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Fulton elections chief jailed for not completing DUI school, community service

Bosses weren’t informed of 10-day jail sentence looming since July

Embattled Fulton County elections chief Sam Westmoreland — currently serving a 10-day sentence in Fulton County jail — has known since July that his probation on a DUI charge had been revoked.

But his superiors at the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections didn’t learn about his jail stint until Wednesday, five days into his incarceration, board Commissioner Stan Matarazzo and Chairman Roderick Edmond told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday.

Westmoreland knew on July 16 that at some point he would have to turn himself in to the Fulton County Jail to serve the 10-day sentence, court documents show.

According to a petition for revocation filed in Fulton County State Court and obtained by the AJC, Westmoreland failed to complete risk reduction/DUI school, a M.A.D.D. course or community service hours mandated after his 2009 DUI arrest.

On the night of Dec. 23, 2009, Alpharetta police stopped Westmoreland on Ga. 120 after he made a U-turn and arrested him after he failed a field sobriety test. The results of a blood sample from that night showed that he was under the influence of the sedative benzodiazepine, according to a GBI Crime Lab analysis obtained by the AJC.

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State Court Judge Wesley B. Taylor, in a July 16 probation revocation hearing, handed down an order postponing Westmoreland’s 10-day sentence until after the county primary elections in July “in order to prevent a potential hardship upon the voters of Fulton County.”

It remains unclear how the probation revocation will affect Westmoreland’s job.

The elections board is scheduled to take up the matter at a specially called meeting that Matarazzo said is scheduled for noon Monday.

Westmoreland already was under fire from voters and election board members for an array of errors that occurred during the July primaries.

The missteps included the elections department assigning 690 voters in Sandy Springs and southeast Atlanta to the wrong state Senate and state House races. It also missed the deadline to certify election results by an hour and a half, leaving the county subject to fines by the state Election Board.

“He needs to be gone,” Commissioner Bill Edwards told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday. “It just goes to your character.”

Registration Chief Sharon Mitchell will substitute for him, board members said.

A member of the Board of Registration and Elections since 2004 and a two-time board chair, Westmoreland was appointed interim elections director in July 2011, and permanently took over the position in March.

Edmond said he was aware of the past DUI arrest but did not know Westmoreland would be going to jail at some point.

County personnel documents obtained through an open records request show that it came up during the hiring process. In a security questionnaire Westmoreland filled out in July 2011, he did not disclose that he had a DUI charge pending against him, which he would plead no contest to a week later.

He answered yes to the question of whether he had ever been convicted of a crime or had ongoing cases, but said only “speeding related 1996-2010.”

In a December memo to County Manager Zachary Williams, Westmoreland addressed “concern as to whether I had failed to properly complete my application by disclosing this misdemeanor charge.” He referred to a May job application where he said he had not been convicted of any serious offense, but said that was true because he didn’t enter a negotiated plea on the DUI charge until July 27.

“I again apologize for my personal shortcoming which even placed this matter in question,” Westmoreland wrote in the memo, which did not address the security application.

Matarazzo said he didn’t want to talk about Westmoreland’s job status before Monday’s meeting.

“The only thing I can say,” he said, “is we will do everything to make sure there are enough resources to make sure the November elections are handled properly.”

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