Interim top cop named after Euharlee chief, assistant chief arrested

A former Atlanta and Cobb County police officer was hired as the interim chief Thursday night for Euharlee, hours after the small town’s police chief and assistant were arrested for alleged double-dipping.

Euharlee police Chief Terry Harget and Assistant Chief Richard Smith were charged with theft of government funds and violation of their oaths of office, the GBI said. Bartow County District Attorney Rosemary Greene asked to GBI to investigate the alleged wrongdoings, GBI spokeswoman Sherry Lang said.

Both men were also employed by the Bartow County School District as crossing guards, and the GBI investigation “revealed that Harget and Smith were being paid for performing the off duty assignment while also receiving on duty pay from the City of Euharlee,” Lang said in an email.

“The investigation also determined that Chief Harget was receiving pay from the Bartow County School police while having on duty Euharlee officers perform the crossing guard duty for which Harget was being paid,” Lang said.

Warrants were issued for the men Thursday, and both turned themselves in at the Bartow County Jail. Both were later released after posting bond.

Thursday night, Mayor Dennis Thayer and city council members held an emergency meeting before appointing Lee New as the city’s top cop, Channel 2 Action News reported.

“I’m confident Chief New will do a superb job, and while this is maybe a speed bump for the city, it will not decrease or diminish our police department,” Thayer said.

Both Harget and Smith were placed on administrative leave. But both are expected to resign Friday, Thayer said.

This is not the first time the Euharlee Police Department has been in the news.

On Feb. 14, 2014, Cpl. Nancy Beth Gatny shot and killed 17-year-old Christopher Wayne Roupe in the chest after she knocked on the door of the Roupe home to serve a probation warrant to the boy's father.

Euharlee police said Roupe was pointing a gun at Gatny when he opened the door. But an attorney for the family told Channel 2 Action News the teen was holding a Nintendo Wii controller.

The DA's office had submitted an indictment charging Gatny with involuntary manslaughter and reckless conduct. However, the grand jury in July returned a "no bill" on the proposed indictment against Gatny because there was not sufficient evidence for the case to proceed.