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Hearing set for former deputy
Judge could rule for a new trial
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Forsyth County News
A federal judge could decide this week whether a former Forsyth County Sheriff’s deputy convicted of child pornography charges will get a new trial.

A jury found Milton Scott Pruitt guilty in July of one count each of knowingly receiving child pornography on his work and home computers.

His sentencing was delayed in October after allegations surfaced that evidence may have been withheld from the defense.

Pruitt’s attorney, Ann Fitz, filed a motion for a new trial just before his sentencing was scheduled.

A hearing on the motion has been set for Wednesday morning in Gainesville.

Fitz said Friday she did not know if U.S. District Court Judge William O’Kelly would issue a ruling on the motion or if the prosecution would present arguments during the hearing.

“It’s within the judge’s discretion on when to rule, but he could theoretically rule that day or wait to issue a ruling,” she said. “I don’t know what the federal government’s going to do.”

Patrick Crosby, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office Northern District of Georgia, declined to comment on the hearing.

In her request for a new trial, Fitz argued that a computer forensics expert for the defense found e-mails indicating then County Information Technology Director J.D. Rusk purposely denied her access to a computer server that was crucial to the case.

Fitz also contends that Rusk, who has since resigned from the post, lied on the witness stand.

The expert, Tami Loehrs, reportedly found the e-mails Oct. 5, just days before Pruitt’s sentencing was scheduled.

As a result, O’Kelly postponed his sentencing to give Loehrs time to complete her investigation. He said a hearing would be scheduled on the defense’s request.

During Pruitt's trial, questions arose over whether Rusk had appropriately made information available to Loehrs.

As a result, the county hired her in August for $21,000 to examine a server in what was referred to as “an internal human resources issue.”

Her work for the county began Oct. 5.

Rusk, who was suspended with pay the day after the allegations came to light, resigned a little more than two months later.

The Forsyth County News obtained a copy of Loehrs’ investigative report, as well as Rusk’s account of the events, through an open records request.

In his statement, Rusk denied that he intentionally disrupted Loehrs’ initial probe and said the new trial motion mistakenly referred to the wrong server.

Pruitt faces five to 20 years in federal prison on the charges.