You asked: Police officers can serve with misdemeanor conviction

Published 7:40 am Saturday, May 21, 2011

You asked: If a felon cannot work for the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office, why is there a deputy with a criminal record in the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office?

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COURTLAND—Three misdemeanor convictions do not disqualify a Southampton County sheriff’s deputy from serving.

A reader asked the question after last week’s indictment of Jonathon Burns for possession of a firearm by a felon. While serving as a volunteer in the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office, Burns allegedly carried a stun gun, which led to the charge.

Paul Phelps, a captain with the Sheriff’s Office, also was indicted for allegedly knowing that Burns illegally possessed the weapon.

Hank Fuller is a former state trooper who pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors for having sex with a girl who was at least 15. State Police forced Fuller to resign.

The Town of Boykins came under fire for hiring Fuller as its town sergeant in September 2008. Fuller left Boykins in January 2010 to become a deputy with the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office.

Southampton County Sheriff Vernie Francis had no comment on Fuller.

John Jones, executive director of the Virginia Sheriff’s Association in Richmond, referred The Tidewater News to the Virginia Code. The code indicates that anyone who is convicted or pleads guilty or no contest to a felony cannot serve as a police officer, deputy or jail officer. It does not prohibit one from serving due to a misdemeanor.