Indicted son of sheriff still on duty

Published 9:10 pm Monday, July 4, 2011

By Dale Liesch

Special to the News-Herald

Months after being indicted on charges that he allowed a convicted felon to possess a weapon, Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Paul Phelps remains on payroll with “limited administrative duties.”


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Those duties include reviewing and assigning cases, as well as overseeing investigations, said Sheriff Charlie Phelps, who is Paul Phelps’ father.

Paul Phelps has been mostly removed from the field since the indictment was handed down, the sheriff said.

“He’s not going out on calls,” Charlie Phelps said. “He stays in the office.”

Paul Phelps on May 9 was indicted for allegedly allowing four-time convicted felon Jonathan Burns, who volunteered in the sheriff’s office, to participate in some arrests and carry a stun gun.

Charlie Phelps said while some law enforcement agencies have administrative, patrol and investigative divisions, his office is not large enough for that, and many officers in supervisor roles, including himself, assist on calls on a daily basis.

Paul Phelps was also asked to assist on calls before he was indicted.

“It’s a possibility he’ll have a jury trial, and we have to limit his contact with the public, because someone on a call he assists with could end up on the jury,” Charlie Phelps said.

Paul Phelps accompanied deputies during a recent search of a Smithfield home. Charlie Phelps said his son was the only senior supervisor available, but he wouldn’t normally go on calls now.

Charlie Phelps said he is handling the situation the same way he would handle it with anyone in the office who had been indicted and added that allowing Paul Phelps to continue working in his previous job within the office comes down to a presumption of innocence.

“I’ve been involved in the system for many years, and I believe in the system,” Charlie Phelps said. “We are putting our faith in the system. You’re innocent until proven guilty, and that’s the way I have to approach it.”