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Columbia County ex-deputy admits DUI in patrol car, pill theft

Joel Larsen
Joel Larsen(WRDW)
Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 3:43 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 10, 2021 at 3:45 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A former Columbia County deputy pleaded guilty to all charges connected to his 2018 arrest for driving a patrol while under the influence of pills he stole from the sheriff’s office disposal bin.

On Wednesday, Joel Larsen pleaded guilty to two counts of violation of oath by a public office, one count of misdemeanor theft and one count of driving under the influence.

The charges stem from a Sept. 21, 2018 incident when Larsen was pulled over on Washington Road near General Woods Parkway after a citizen alerted them to a man in a marked patrol car was driving erratically.

Deputies responded to the area and found Larsen confused. He was immediately taken to University Hospital for evaluation.

The patrol car, meanwhile, was searched where investigators found an unlabeled pill bottle with various pills inside and a plastic bag containing various other pills and pill bottles that were taken from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office disposal bin.

Larsen, according to officials, managed to consent to a blood test at the hospital where deputies found enough cause to suspend him with pay later that evening. He was soon after fired from his position at the sheriff’s office. He joined the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office in 2005.

He was sentenced to five years of probation in addition to a fine totaling $1,000, 40 hours of community service and a risk reduction driving course.

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