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Judge: Deputy shamed office

3 years probation includes 30 days electronic monitoring

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Paul Little pleaded no con-test to two counts of falsification of reports for lying about how his gun wound up in a felon's hands.

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Saying he had humiliated his fellow deputies and Sheriff John Tharp, Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Linda Jennings on Wednesday placed a former deputy on probation for three years, including 30 days of electronic monitoring.

Paul Little, 40, of 2932 Lambert Dr. pleaded no contest Jan. 27 to two misdemeanor counts of falsification of reports for lying about how his gun wound up in a convicted felon’s hands.

He originally was indicted on felony charges of unlawful transaction of weapons and intimidation of a crime victim or witness — charges the court dismissed in a plea agreement.

His attorney, Stevin Groth, said just what transpired last May was still a matter of debate between his client and prosecutors.

In a sentencing brief, he said Mr. Little maintains the felon, with whom he routinely played basketball, stole the gun from him.

Mr. Little was afraid to report his suspicion, so he reported his gun stolen. The felon was working as a paid informant for the sheriff’s office at the time.

Judge Jennings spoke sternly to Mr. Little, who was fired by Sheriff Tharp after the incident. She said without a trial, she didn’t have all the information about the case.

“What is clear is that these offenses involve a firearm, and it involves your firearm — the one that you carry as a Lucas County sheriff’s deputy,” she said.

“What is also clear is that you associated with or had a friendship with a known felon. You played ball with him. You drank with him. You let him drive your car.”

Judge Jennings told him the circumstances under which that felon ended up with his gun were both serious and troubling.

“There are no extenuating circumstances,” she said. “You are a law-enforcement officer entrusted with following the law, and you did not do that.”

Mr. Little apologized, saying he took “full responsibility for what happened.”

The judge ordered Mr. Little to perform 200 hours of community service, ordered his gun be destroyed, and gave him a suspended six-month jail sentence, saying he would have to serve that sentence if he violates any part of his probation.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.

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