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Forsyth County deputy fired over voter registration investigation

Authorities say that a Forsyth County Sheriff's Office deputy has been fired from his position within the department after an internal affairs inquiry allegedly found that he used an incorrect address to register and vote in the 2017 City of Cumming elections. 

Personnel records obtained by the Forsyth County News show that sheriff’s office finance section director Sgt. James Cutcliff was terminated from the sheriff's office on April 19, 2019, for allegedly violating department policies on truthfulness/cooperation, violation of law and conduct unbecoming. 

Cutcliff was originally placed on leave from the sheriff's office in late March after Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman requested the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's help investigating reports that Cutcliff may have “illegally” registered his voting address in Forsyth County.

In a letter notifying Cutcliff of his employment, Chief Deputy Grady Sanford wrote that an internal affairs investigation opened on March 25 had determined that Cutcliff had used the Forsyth County Jail as his registered voting address since 2011, using it to vote in the City of Cumming elections held on October 27, 2017. 

The letter stated that during the course of the internal affairs inquiry, Cutcliff stated that he, "either didn't recall, or that [he] did not do" any of the allegations made against him. 

"Based on the evidence provided above, Sgt. Cutcliff's off duty actions tarnished the image of the sheriff's office," according to documents in Cutcliff's personnel file. 

On Tuesday the Forsyth County Board of Voter Registrations and Elections was expected to hold a hearing on the issue of Cutcliff's voter registration, but instead Mandi Smith, acting director of the county’s voter registrations and elections department, read a statement saying no hearing would be held until after the GBI had concluded its investigation.

“A hearing in this matter had been set for today’s meeting but has been canceled,” Smith said. “An outside agency is conducting an inquiry into this matter, and upon advice of the county attorney, we believe it would be inappropriate for the board of voter registrations and elections to conduct its own hearing at this time. In the event the board elects to conduct a hearing into this matter at a later date, proper notice of the meeting will be made in accordance with the Open Meetings Act.”

GBI officials have not yet commented on the current status of their investigation into this incident.

While Cutcliff has not officially been accused of any crime, knowingly registering false voter information is a felony under Georgia law, according to the Secretary of State’s website.

Georgia Secretary of State voter registration documents obtained by the Forsyth County News show that Cutcliff’s registered “residence address” is 202 Veterans Memorial Blvd., the address of the Forsyth County Jail, while a P.O. Box in Cumming is listed as his mailing address.

Forsyth County property records show that Cutcliff sold a residence off Magnolia Creek Drive in north Forsyth in 2007, but his name is not attached to any other county property.

Cutcliff has been an active voter in the county since 2002, according to documents obtained by the FCN, most recently casting a ballot in the general and primary elections in 2018, but also in the 2017 City of Cumming City Council election which ended in a tie between Post 1 Incumbent Chuck Welch and challenger Chad Crane.

This story will be updated.