Not Immune: Sheriff’s Captain Convicted of Civil Rights Violation

Originally published on January 31, 2015, at NationofChange.org

A former captain with the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office has been convicted on charges of violating the civil rights of an arrestee, obstruction of justice, and making false statements in a federal investigation. Abusing his power and authority, Captain James “Jim” Corder stole $1,785 from a handcuffed suspect during an arrest and failed to log the money into evidence. Although witnesses saw Capt. Corder steal the cash, Corder later lied to the FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) agents investigating the theft.

In July 2013, William “Billy” Easterwood and his wife Amy were arrested on suspected burglary charges. As Capt. Corder placed Billy Easterwood in the back of a sheriff’s car, Billy asked his mother to take the money from his pocket. A day before the Easterwoods’ arrest, the couple had sold their dog and their camper for $1,785 in cash.

With his hands cuffed behind his back, Billy could not physically give the money to his mother. According to Billy’s mother, Corder took the cash from Billy’s pocket claiming it was for restitution. Instead of logging the $1,785 into evidence, Corder kept the money and refused to return it to Billy.

Depicting Corder as a crooked cop who routinely took liberty with arrestees’ property, Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Rhew-Miller told jurors, “When Jim Corder gets a hold of a prisoner’s property, he does whatever he wants with it.”

An investigation began after Amy Easterwood was released from jail and asked Corder to return the money. When Corder failed to retrieve the cash from evidence, the Easterwoods filed a complaint with Corder’s superiors. In October 2013, FBI and FDLE agents interviewed Corder about the theft. After providing misleading statements to the agents, Corder was charged with obstruction of justice, three counts of giving false statements in a federal investigation, and deprivation of civil rights.

“As Sheriff, it is my responsibility to ensure the safety of our community which includes holding those within my administration to higher standards,” stated Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young. “When we were notified of the complaint against Jim Corder; we immediately complied with the State. This is an unfortunate situation. However, transparency is one of the cornerstones of my administration and now the judicial process has taken its course.”

Convicted on Thursday, Corder’s sentencing is scheduled for April 8. He faces up to 26 years in prison for the theft and failed attempt to cover up his crime.

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