Records show that the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office recently hired two deputies who are under currently investigation with the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) Council.
Sheriff Noel Brown confirmed the pending employment to TheGeorgiaVirtue.com on Tuesday. The county says the Sheriff’s Office extended employment offers to Chasten Hutchens and Waymon Maurice Lester, effective as of the end of May.
Both Hutchens and Lester were employed by the Screven County Sheriff’s Office until their employment with BCSO. The reason for their departure from SCSO is not known at this time, however, both were under POST investigation at the time of their hiring by Sheriff Mike Kile in Screven.
Chasten (Chase) Fuller Hutchens
Hutchens’ tenure in law enforcement, according to POST Council, includes 15 months at the Tattnall County Sheriff’s Office, 13 months at the Ludowici Police Department, 14 months at the Hinesville Police Department, seven months at the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office, and seven months at the Screven County Sheriff’s Office. Hutchens also spent one month at the Pembroke Police Department, where he was a part-time officer. All of Hutchens’ departures since he became POST-certified in June 2017 were ‘voluntary resignations’ with the exception of the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office where Hutchens ‘Resigned in Lieu of Termination.’ That resignation came one week before the POST Council opened an investigation into Hutchens on September 28, 2021.
According to Discovering Bulloch, Chase Hutchens is the son of Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office Captain Todd Hutchens.
Tattnall County Sheriff’s Office Personnel File
Hutchen’s file with TCSO reflected a letter of commendation thanks to a call from then-Evans County Sheriff Randall Tippins, and two records of discipline which included a 3-day suspension without pay, a retraining course, limited use of his patrol vehicle, and a prohibition of ‘off-duty’ work.
The first record of discipline, dated December 1, 2017, references Hutchens’ attendance of a party in Tattnall County, in which he drove his department vehicle to a residence for the party and left the vehicle overnight. The letter also made mention of photos from the party which depicted Hutchens under the influence of alcohol. As a result, Hutchens was barred from driving his vehicle anywhere other than to and from his home when he was not on duty.
A record of discipline dated October 17, 2018 stated that a complaint was received regarding Hutchens’ “reckless use of [his] assigned patrol vehicle.” Specifically, Chief Deputy Jeffrey Rogers wrote:
“On several occasions you were found to be driving to incidents at excessive speeds in your patrol vehicle on calls that did not warrant such speed. The issue has been previously addressed orally with you by Sheriff Sapp and you continue to operate your patrol car at excessive speeds.”
On November 1, 2018, Hutchens submitted a resignation letter, effective November 27, 2018. His letter cited “a better opportunity at another department.”
Bryan County Sheriff’s Office Personnel File
Hutchens personnel file from the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office included a longer detail of records.
Hiring notes contained with the BCSO file for Hutchens included notes from the person responsible for contacting previous employers. In Hutchens’ case, this included Hinesville PD, Ludowici PD, and the Tattnall County Sheriff’s Office.
Hinesville PD – “Captain Smith stated that Hutchens doesn’t want to come to work…but when he’s at work he does his job.”
Ludowici PD – “Chief Parker stated Hutchens was a good employee, he had no problems with him coming to work. Chief Parker stated that Hutchens did like the ladies and he tried to date the mayor’s daughter while he worked for him.”
Tattnall County Sheriff’s Office – “Chief Deputy Rogers stated that Hutchens had two write ups in his file….Sheriff Sapp stated that he has a policy about employees dating employees and Hutchens was dating a dispatcher that worked for the Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Sapp stated that Hutchens needed to grow up and mature some.”
Improper Use of GCIC Database
One investigation from March 2021 involved a female complainant who contacted the Sheriff’s Office about ‘harassment.’ She told Captain Dennis Davis that Hutchens made unwanted personal advances while on duty and provided text messages supporting the claims to BCSO.
From the report:
Furthermore [the complainant] alleged that she was first introduced to you, after you conducted a traffic stop on her vehicle while you were previously employed by the Hinesville Police Department. [The complainant] informed me that after being released from the traffic stop, she received a message on her phone from you. [The complainant] stated that she did not give you her phone number and believes you gained access to her phone number by utilizing her license information through GCIC. [The complainant] provided me with the text message exchange on her phone that appears to support her allegation of an abuse of GCIC information for personal purposes. While this particular incident took place prior to your employment with the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office, it is nonetheless a serious allegation and warrants some attention to the matter as a current employee of the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office.
Conversations with an Undercover GBI Agent Regarding Paying for Sex
Captain Dennis Davis and Sheriff Mark Crowe met on September 16, 2021 regarding an internal affairs investigation regarding a deputy talking with an undercover agent with the GBI regarding paying for sex.
According to a letter from Sheriff Mark Crowe, he was contacted by Evans County Sheriff Mac Edwards on September 15, 2021 about a BCSO deputy. As part of another investigation, a fake Facebook profile was created with which Deputy Chase Hutchens corresponded. Once Crowe had all of the evidence provided to him, he contacted CID/IA Captain Dennis Davis to begin an investigation into Hutchens’ actions. Hutchens was placed on administrative leave.
Hutchens was advised of his rights and later interviewed, at which time he told administrators that he came across a girl named Tiffany…”she looked beautiful, and nice so he added her to his Facebook.” The two began messaging, at which time they spoke of some “financial struggles she was going through” and he told her he would like to help her. “Deputy Hutchens advised the two talked about a couple more things including sex and sexual activity.”
From the report:
“I asked Deputy Hutchens about the $150 an hour that was in the text messages between the two, he was going to pay her for sex. Deputy Hutchens advised me that he was not going to pay her for sex. Deputy Hutchens advised that he was going to give her money for college…
I advised Deputy Hutchens that he has violated the Oath of Office and Code of Conduct.”
The text messages, however, indicate slightly more detail.
In multiple exchanges, the ‘female’ profile stated “I am not into relationships if you know what I mean…strictly business, darlin’. I thought that is why you messaged me” and “Just depends on what you want and what you want to spend.” Hutchens then asked, “How much does everything cost?”
FEMALE PROFILE: “That’s where I need you to be specific on what you want so I can tell you and not waste your time. Have you seen pornhub? Everything on that is a lot.”
HUTCHENS then details a number of sexual acts.
FEMALE PROFILE: “Yes officer, sounds like we will need a while for all of that lol. Let’s just (unclear) for 150 an hour for (listed sexual activities) and I will let you (sexual activities) for free lol.”
The two also discuss on a handful of occasions when they will meet up.
The aforementioned letter from Sheriff Crowe stated that Hutchens was called into Crowe’s office and presented with the facts and findings. “Deputy Chasten Hutchens chose to resign in lieu of termination and turned in all issued department property at this time,” the letter closes. Read the letter:
Waymon Maurice Lester
Lester is a past employee of the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office. He worked for the agency from May 2, 2011 to August 12, 2020 when he resigned in lieu of termination.
According to the investigation, Lester was the subject of an internal investigation by the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office in June 2020 when it was alleged that he was involved with an inmate. Lester was a supervisor and was not assigned to the detention center as part of his duties.
The report indicates that the investigation showed Lester brought the female inmate a Bible on one occasion and visited with the female inmate in her cell “a couple of times.”
“Prior to the most recent arrest, while (the inmate) was on probation, Lester had come to (her) residence on one or two occasions to serve as a witness while her probation officer administered a drug test,” the report reads. A number of witnesses also contributed statements to the investigation, in which one testified that Lester and the female exchanged a quick kiss on one occasion and that the inmate referred to Lester as “Big Daddy.”
“The investigator was able to confirm that (the female inmate) and Lester were communicating by phone while (she) was incarcerated. In some of the calls, Lester’s portable police radio could be heard in the background indicating that he was communicating with (her) while on duty. Video of the detention center was viewed and confirmed that Lester did enter the facility and meet with (her).”
When contacted by POST during the investigation, Lester did not respond or offer a statement.
According to POST, the POST Council voted to revoke Lester’s POST certification in 2021, however, the decision was appealed by Lester last may and has been ‘pending’ ever since – over a year.
The POST Council file also noted that Lester’s file was forwarded to Ogeechee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Daphne Totten, however, “as of the date of [the report], no criminal charges have been filed.”
POST Council Status as of Publishing
POST confirmed on Thursday that as of May 5, 2022 both Hutchens and Lester remained under investigation. Specifically, POST said “Lester appealed council’s decision and had a pre hearing conference and it’s still pending at this point. Hutchens is still under investigation.”
Sheriff Noel Brown told TheGeorgiaVirtue.com Tuesday that Hutchens will not be assigned as a patrol deputy and will be a probationary employee for a period of one year from his start date.
The Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office has, for some time, been working to improve its attractiveness for qualified candidates. Previously, the agency increased the starting base pay while adjusting existing pay after a compensation study and more recently, Sheriff Brown has lobbied for county commissioners to increase retirement benefits by adjusting the current plan of a defined contribution plan to a defined benefit plan.