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Municipal Court Clerk placed on paid leave

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Chief making $2,951 every two weeks while not working

Another employee of the Eatonton Police Department reportedly was placed on administrative leave with pay, reportedly in connection with the police chief’s arrest. City Administrator Gary Sanders confirmed Tuesday that Eatonton Municipal Court Clerk Lynn Thomas was removed from her work, but Sanders declined to give any details.

The Eatonton Messenger talked with four different sources, all of whom are reliably close to the situation but wish to remain anonymous, who said Thomas is being investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for altering the narrative of a police officer’s incident report.

When asked for a statement regarding that investigation, GBI Public Affairs Director Nelly Miles said in an email, “The GBI continues its investigation into a case that involved Chief Kent Lawrence. That case is still very active, so at this point we don’t have any new investigative details to share.”

Thomas has worked several decades at the city’s police department; and every time Chief Kent Lawrence was out of town, he directed the newspaper reporter to Thomas as the department’s spokesperson.

Thomas is the second person at the department to be placed on administrative leave with pay. Eatonton Police Chief Kent Lawrence was removed from his duties immediately after he was arrested December 11 on simple battery and battery charges. The Messenger confirmed via the city administrator that Lawrence’s gross pay is $2,951.20 every two weeks.

GBI special agents arrested the longtime police chief at the police station; he is accused of using excessive force against a woman in custody. After he was booked into jail at the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, Lawrence was released on his own recognizance.

Putnam County Clerk of Courts Trevor Addison said no court date has been set for the case.

Eatonton Police investigator Howell Cardwell was named by Eatonton City Council members as the acting police chief pending the outcome of the case.