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Sheriff’s office clerk fired after arrest in multistate child exploitation sting

82 arrested in multistate child exploitation sting

A northeast Georgia sheriff’s office clerk, one of 82 people arrested in connection with a child exploitation sting across eight southeastern states, has been fired, officials said Monday.

Carol Chellew, 56, was hired as a civilian clerk with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office in January 2018, Sheriff Janis Mangum said in a statement.

Magnum said she received a call from the Jefferson police chief April 30 notifying her that the police department and GBI intended to execute a search warrant at Chellew’s home in the 300 block of Hickory Hills Subdivision.

“I received another call later from (Jefferson police Chief Joseph Wirthman) stating that Carol Chellew, along with her husband, was being arrested for sexual exploitation of children,” Mangum said.

Chellew’s employment with the sheriff’s office was terminated the night of her arrest, Magnum told

Police said electronics containing more than 40,000 pornographic images of children were found in the couple’s home, according to Channel 2 Action News. The news station reported that Doug Chellew, 56, was downloading child porn at the time of his arrest, while Carol Chellew was in the backyard gardening.

“He was just inside the door. Sitting at his computer. Downloading pornography and on two cellphones, in a chat room with girls we believe were pre-teenaged,” Wirthman told Channel 2.

Carol Chellew, who is charged with 15 counts of possession or control of material depicting minors in sexually explicit conduct, was released from the county jail on bond Thursday.

Her husband was a department store employee in Jefferson. His status with his employer was unclear Monday.

Chellew and her husband were among 31 people charged in Georgia following the multistate investigation, according to the GBI.

RELATED: 82 arrested in multistate child exploitation sting

A total of 17 children were also rescued or identified as victims during the four-month sting, which involved 171 law enforcement agencies in metro Atlanta, other parts of Georgia, Alabama, Florida and the Carolinas.

The investigation, dubbed “Operation Southern Impact III,” targeted those who possess and distribute child pornography as well as those accused of exploiting children on the internet, a GBI spokeswoman said.

The people arrested ranged in age from 20 to 70, and included a day care administrator, a youth group leader, a firefighter, a former high school band director and a military veteran, the GBI said.

The sting included search warrant executions, undercover operations, arrests and sex offender compliance visits. Police executed 134 search warrants, spoke to 215 registered sex offenders and seized more than 1,600 electronic devices, the GBI said.

The suspects were targeted based on cyber tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as well as online undercover investigations conducted by local law enforcement agencies.

The majority of the arrests in Georgia involved the possession or distribution of child porn, including material containing the violent sexual abuse of infants and toddlers, the GBI said.

Of the dozens arrested in Georgia, seven were apprehended after allegedly traveling to meet and have sex with minors.

“A goal of the operation was to arrest persons who communicate with children online and then travel to meet them for the purpose of having sex,” the GBI said in a news release announcing the arrests.

Four of the people arrested in Georgia were already registered sex offenders, including one person who was charged in 2015 after a similar GBI operation.

The other 29 people charged in Georgia are:

•James Barfield IV, 51, Atlanta, home improvement store employee

•Dillan M. Bell, 26, Allenhurst, unemployed

•Gerald Chamberlain, 34, Rome, golf course maintenance worker

•Timothy Wayne Diggs, 39, Metter, information technology specialist

•Keith James Diver, 37, Norcross, restaurant employee

•Erick Noe Gonzalez, 26, Buford, landscaper

•Erik Gordon, 30, Morrow, shipping company employee

•Desmond Lemond Hasley, 27, Douglasville, staffing company employee

•Keidron Jayquan Isham, 23, Rome, unemployed

•Claude Martin Johnson IV, 21, Augusta, unemployed

•Andrew Kim, 30, Suwanee, business owner

•Jordan Logan, 33, Grovetown, painter

•Jonathan Craig Manning, 28, Rome, railroad worker

•Andrew J. Martz, 30, Tyrone, student

•Matthew James McDurmond, 26, Cedartown, unknown

•Terry Menard, 61, Roswell, multimedia designer

•Daniel Joseph Mullinax, 35, Auburn, unemployed

•Justin Lee Myers, 22, Cleveland, unknown

•Andrew Benjamin Nelson, 42, Marietta, construction worker

•Michael David Quinn, 44, Roswell, unknown

•Matthew Steven Ramski, 37, Cumming, graphic design artist

•Arlen Lemuel Riddle, 46, Muscadine, Ala., firefighter

•Malchijah Robinson, 40, Decatur, unemployed

•David Chris Sammons, 33, Eatonton, factory worker

•Omar S. Sanchez-Viera, 40, Jonesboro, health supplement company employee

•Chad Sitzwohl, 35, Dawsonville, factory worker

•Wille D. Slaughter, 33, Valdosta, military veteran

•Wan Yeung Tang, 45, Cumming, dishwasher

•Tyler Wooten, 21, Sharpsburg, student