A Wilson County judge is expected Thursday to consider an extradition request from Cobb County, Ga. authorities for a Lebanon City Council candidate who faces drug charges there.
Ward 1 candidate Richard Rogers has remained in Wilson County Jail since Lebanon police took him into custody Sept. 26. He’s expected to appear Thursday in Wilson County general sessions court, where a judge will decide on whether he’ll be sent to Georgia to face nine-year-old charges. Court proceedings begin at 9 a.m.
Police Chief Scott Bowen said at the time Rogers was wanted on two felony warrants for possession of muscle relaxers and possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute issued in 2004 from Cobb County, Ga. Rogers also has outstanding charges from 2003 involving driving under the influence of drugs, reckless driving and failure to stop at the scene of an accident. Georgia authorities charged Rogers in 2003, and a bench warrant was issued after he failed to appear in court, Bowen said.
Bowen said Lebanon police first became aware of the warrants after an officer stopped to offer Rogers assistance after his vehicle broke down Sept. 17. He said as part of normal procedure, the officer entered Rogers’ driver’s license number into the police database and discovered the warrants. Bowen said according to database information, Rogers was released because Cobb County authorities did not give instruction to hold him for extradition.
“Our officers were doing what they were supposed to do,” Bowen said. “It’s unfortunate it came out the way it did.”
Bowen said Lebanon officers received a call from Cobb County authorities Sept. 26, asking they take Rogers into custody and hold him until he could be picked up and taken to Georgia to face charges.
“Our only involvement in this was that our officer was just checking on him, and it’s something we do that we check driver’s licenses,” Bowen said. “As far as the political aspect of it, that has nothing to do with the police department. We were just doing our job.”
Since the Aug. 23 candidate withdrawal deadline has passed, Rogers will remain on the ballot against Lanny Jewell for Ward 1 councilor.
Rogers told The Democrat on Sept. 26 he wanted to prepare a statement for the newspaper. During a call placed to Rogers’ home that afternoon, Rogers’ nephew, Kevin Lester, said he was “unavailable to come to the phone.”
Since Rogers has not been convicted of the felony charges, he remains in good standing to be a city council candidate, according to state law. Rogers has reportedly requested he not be considered for the council seat in the Nov. 6 election.
Jewell said has said he doesn’t plan on changing his plans concerning the election.
“It caught me off guard,” Jewell said. “To tell you the truth, I really don’t know what’s going on with him. I’m at a loss, too. It’s tough sitting in my shoes trying to run a campaign and not knowing what’s going on. It’s crazy.
“I’m not going to change my plans. I’m going to wave at the intersections in the mornings and knock on doors in the afternoons. I’m going to carry on through and meet the people.”
Director of content Jared Felkins may be reached at 615-444-3952, ext. 13 or firstname.lastname@example.org.