Camden Sheriff's Probe Sent to Feds; INVESTIGATION the GBI Looked into the Use of Inmate Labor on Private Property. FINDINGS the District Attorney Gave the Report to Federal Prosecutors

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Byline: GORDON JACKSON

KINGSLAND - A Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe into the Camden County Sheriff's Office use of inmate labor is complete and in the hands of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Atlanta.

Stephen Kelley, district attorney for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, said Monday he has sent the investigative report to federal prosecutors but doesn't know what they will do with the information. Kelley said he expects federal authorities to decide whether to prosecute the case within two or three months.

He said he forwarded the GBI findings to federal authorities because his office works daily with the Sheriff's Office and it could be perceived as a potential conflict of interest if he were to prosecute the case.

In addition, some of the inmates questioned by the GBI during the probe were prosecuted by his office, the district attorney said.

Kelley said he received the investigation sometime before Christmas - he could not remember exactly when - and sent it to the U.S. Attorney's Office almost immediately.

To his knowledge, Kelley said, no one else has read the GBI's report of its findings.

Kelley has read the report but declined to reveal any details.

Asked when the document would be made public, Kelley said it cannot be released until the ongoing federal investigation is complete.

Sheriff Bill Smith was out of the office Monday and could not be reached for comment.

The GBI launched the investigation after inmates were seen working on private property on Cumberland Island National Seashore in June. The National Park Service removed Superintendent Jerre Brumbelow from his job in July while conducting its own investigation. Brumbelow has been reassigned to the Park Service's regional office in Atlanta until the Park Service's probe is complete.

Kelley said his office would have faced certain criticism regardless of its decision to prosecute the case.

"These things become a no-win situation for the District Attorney's Office," he said.

Patrick Crosby, a public affairs officer for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Atlanta, declined comment on the investigation.

"The Justice Department's policy is to neither confirm or deny any possible investigation," Crosby said. …