Former jail deputy arrested for gun thefts

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By Bryan Marshall

A former deputy jailer was back at the Grant County Detention Center on June 19, but this time as an inmate.
James C. Stephens, 36,  of Dry Ridge, was charged with two counts of receiving stolen property (firearm) and two counts of possession of a handgun by a convicted felon by the Grant County Sheriff’s Office.
The guns Stephens allegedly stole were owned by two jail employees, Lula See and Jason Hankins, according to Grant County Sheriff Chuck Dills.

Both guns were allegedly taken from See’s residence and then pawned at the Dry Ridge Pawn Shop on June 1 and June 8.
Dills said Stephens admitted to taking the guns during an investigation by Sgt. Dennis Switzer.

Stephens began working at the jail in February 2013 and was fired June 7, said Jailer Terry Peeples.

Stephens allegedly lied to get out of work, which Peeples said was a violation of the jail’s code of ethics.
“If you can’t trust them to tell you the truth on something simple like working your shift, how are you going to trust them and believe them when something serious is going on?” said Peeples, who added Stephens’ attendance was an issue.

About a week after Stephens was fired, Peeples said he heard that Stephens was at the residence of See, the jail’s classification officer, when two guns went missing.

The missing guns were reported to the Grant County Sheriff’s Department.
“We did not know anything about this until after he was terminated,” Peeples said.
After arresting Stephens, the sheriff’s department learned that he had previously been arrested for possession of methamphetamine, possession of cocaine and possession of ecstasy in 2006 in California while he was in the U.S. Air Force.
Stephens spent about nine months in a military prison, according to Dills.
Because of his record, the additional charges of possession of a handgun by a convicted felon were added.
However, Dills said he is working with the FBI to verify Stephens’ felony record because it occurred while he was in the military.
The information about Stephens’ previous drug charges were in his criminal history and noted in his personnel file at the jail, said Dills.
“I don’t know if they failed to follow up or what,” he said.
Peeples said he had “no idea” about Stephens’ previous charges.
“When they fill out an application, we take their information and go to the Kentucky State Police and we have them run the background,” he said. “Then, KSP forwards us the information. Now, either KSP did not include that felony or they told Lula about it and she failed to document it. But, when the paper work got to us, there was no mention of a felony on there so he was hired. I don’t know which one of them was at fault yet…We will find out.”
Peeples said Stephens was never certified to carry a firearm at the jail.

“We’re going to change our hiring policy,” he said. “We’re going to alter it to make it very similar to what the sheriff’s department does in an attempt to prevent errors like this from happening in the future.”
Stephens was lodged in the jail for about five hours before he posted bond.

As a former employee who is charged with stealing from two current jail employees, Peeples said Stephens was put in isolation.
“We make special arrangements for certain situations,” he said. “This being one of them, (Stephens) was booked and he was isolated in a single cell by himself for his protection. He was placed on a constant one-on-one watch.”
If Stephens is convicted of his charges, Peeples said he would again be lodged in the Grant County Detention Center.
However, Peeples said he would make arrangements to have Stephens moved to another jail.
“We would contact another facility and try to swap him with somebody,” he said.