Ex-Ga. po­lice chief in­dicted by federal grand jury

The Covington News - - THE WIRE -

SA­VAN­NAH, Ga. (AP) — Sa­van­nah’s for­mer po­lice chief has been in­dicted on federal ex­tor­tion and gam­bling charges less than nine months af­ter he abruptly turned in his badge.

Wil­lie Lovett, 67, pleaded not guilty dur­ing an ini­tial ap­pear­ance in U.S. District Court on Thurs­day, the day af­ter a grand jury re­turned a seven-count in­dict­ment against him. Lovett re­tired sud­denly last Septem­ber af­ter a sub­or­di­nate of­fi­cer filed a sex­ual ha­rass­ment com­plaint, end­ing a 40-year po­lice ca­reer that in­cluded four years as Sa­van­nah-Chatham County po­lice chief.

The in­dict­ment ac­cuses Lovett of ex­tort­ing cash from oper­a­tors of an il­le­gal gam­bling ring in ex­change for pro­tect­ing them from po­lice. Lovett ac­cepted cash pay­ments on at least five sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions be­tween 2004 and 2013, prose­cu­tors said. A federal mag­is­trate set bond for Lovett at $30,000, ac­cord­ing to Sa­van­nah news­pa­per and TV news re­ports.

“We en­tered a plea of not guilty to­day, and we plan to prove that in a court of law,” said Lovett’s at­tor­ney, Dow Bonds, ac­cord­ing to WTOC-TV (http://bit.ly/1nm­r­bQO ).

Lovett was charged with five counts of ex­tor­tion, as well as charges of par­tic­i­pat­ing in an il­le­gal gam­bling oper­a­tion and con­spir­ing to ob­struct en­force­ment of state laws. The charges carry a po­ten­tial com­bined sen­tence of up to 110 years in prison.

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