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GENESEE COUNTY, MI – A jail guard accused of giving illegal drugs to an inmate will be fired this week, Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell said Monday.
Amy R. Gatica faces 14 felonies and two misdemeanors alleging she possessed and distributed illegal drugs to an inmate at the Genesee County Jail.
Pickell said at a press conference on Monday morning that Gatica would smuggle cocaine and prescription drugs into her clothing and give them to an inmate she knew. The alleged acts date back to last October, Pickell said.
Gatica is the second Genesee County Sheriff's Department deputy this year accused of committing felonies while on the job.
In January, Lt. Michael Chatterson was accused of accosting female sheriff's deputies.
In the Gatica case, Pickell said the sheriff's office received a tip and started investigating immediately. Gatica was arrested when she came into work Thursday, Pickell said.
Her Grand Blanc Township home and vehicle were searched and drugs were confiscated, Pickell said. She also had illegal drugs in her system, including cocaine, Pickell said. He said she was "an addict."
Her attorney, Frank J. Manley, scoffed at the notion she was an addict. Manley said his client had a medical condition involving pain medication. The sheriff's department may have known about the medical condition and did nothing to help her, Manley said.
There's no proof that Gatica delivered drugs to an inmate, Manley said.
"There have been many prior incidents of inmates obtaining drugs and there is a variety of ways that it could have happened," Manley said.
Gatica worked for the department 13 years, all in the jail. She was suspended without pay and will be fired later this week, Pickell said.
Pickell said he was "appalled and disgusted" by the allegations and most of his 244 employees are hardworking and law abiding citizens.
"Anyone and I mean anyone, in my office caught breaking the law will be dealt with like any other criminal," he said.
Pickell touted the fact that his department has been open and thorough in its investigations of wrongdoing.
"This office of the sheriff exposes everything," he said. "I think the public has a right to know. I think it speaks well for this office that we did a full scale investigation over a holiday weekend."
Chatterson was charged in January with one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and three counts of stalking following an investigation by the Genesee County Sheriff's Department.
Prosecutors also are seeking a first degree CSC charge. The case is currently going through district court.
Chatterson, 43, of Milford, was fired after he was accused of sexually assaulting a subordinate deputy by grabbing her. He oversaw the paramedic division.
Four female deputies have filed a lawsuit in Genesee County Circuit Court against Chatterson and the sheriff's department alleging that the department didn't do enough to prevent the alleged actions.
Gatica was charged with delivery of cocaine less than 50 grams, two counts possession of cocaine less than 25 grams, two counts of possession of marijuana and 11 counts of obtaining controlled substance by fraud. Pickell said Gatica also was allegedly using a private physician's personal information to obtain prescription drugs such as Vicodin.
Gatica was processed at the Genesee County Jail and then transported to Lapeer County Jail to be lodged, which is common when members of law enforcement are arrested in the county that they also work in. She posted the $41,000 bail on Saturday.
Her attorney said the sheriff's department has a long way to go before they can prove guilt.
"It's very important to know that juries are not present at press conferences, only at courtrooms and that is where guilt or innocence is determined," said Manley.
July 08, 2013
David Harris | MLIVE.com
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