South Georgia sheriff arrested, accused of selling stolen firearms

A South Georgia sheriff was arrested Friday after authorities say he sold stolen firearms given to him by an assault and battery suspect.

Miller County Sheriff Shane Rathel faces two counts of selling stolen firearms, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Middle District of Georgia said in a news release.

According to an affidavit, Philip Weston Jones gave Rathel the guns as part of his bond revocation hearing, which required him to “give up all firearms in his possession to the Miller County Sheriff’s Office.”

Rathel instead told Jones to bring the weapons to his house.

Jones saw the guns the next day up for sale at a pawn shop and contacted the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, according to the affidavit.

When Jones confronted Rathel about the stolen guns in a recorded phone call, the sheriff gave him a series of responses, including: “Don’t worry about it, everything is good,” “I’ve always been straight with you,” and “I’ll call you and we will get together.”

Rathel, according to the affidavit, sold two of the guns to a friend’s pawn shop for $600. He allegedly sold another gun to a couple for $200.

Rathel could face up to 10 years in jail, a $250,000 fine or both if he is convicted.