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Former deputy indicted on theft of department-issued gun

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A former sheriff’s deputy was recently indicted on charges of theft by unlawful taking after allegedly taking a firearm belonging to the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office.

According to court documents, Ernest T. Smith, 45, of Louisville, is accused of taking a Glock Model 35 , 40-caliber semiautomatic handgun from the Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Ed Mattingly had reported the theft to the Kentucky State Police April 30.

Mattingly said Smith had been away on sick leave, and when he ran out of leave, he announced his resignation. Upon resigning, the deputy was asked to turn over his department-issued handgun.

“He had a fire at his house, in his car and claimed that his weapon burned up in the car,” Mattingly said.

When Smith was asked to bring the remnants of the weapon in, Mattingly noticed that the gun had been defaced and the serial number was obscured.

The Sheriff’s Office turned the burned weapon and the case over to the Kentucky State Police, where the gun was sent to the lab in Frankfort.

According to court documents, the lab was able to restore the serial number, which did not match the handgun Smith had been issued for duty.

“Ironically, we had been doing inventory of property to make sure everyone was assigned the same equipment,” Mattingly said. But because Smith was on sick leave at the time, he hadn’t yet been subject to that inventory. But the inventory did reveal that the weapon Smith turned over did not match any of the other department-issued handguns.

“It was his gun,” Mattingly said, “but it wasn’t our gun.”

Smith was arrested July 18. His bail was set at $5,000 unsecured, plus conditions. He is set to be arraigned in court on the theft charge Aug. 6.

Mattingly said he joined the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office in July of 2000.