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Former deputy's trial set to close

Charles Lamon Tharpe

Charles Lamon Tharpe

ALBANY, Ga. — Closing arguments are expected to begin today in the case of a former Dougherty County sheriff's deputy who is accused of stealing identity information from jail inmates.

Charles Lamon Tharpe's trial is set to resume today in Superior Court Judge Tracy Mouleton's courtroom.

Tharpe was fired from the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office when he was indicted in June 2011 for violation of oath by a public officer. Authorities accused him of using Dougherty County Sheriff's Office computers to access the personal information of seven convicts who had passed through the Dougherty County Jail.

With the computer theft, Tharpe was able to steal Social Security numbers, dates of birth and other information that could be used to defraud businesses, District Attorney Greg Edwards said.

"Six of the men are serving life terms. The other one has 40 years," Edwards said. "But information could be used to set up false identities and defraud businesses. Then, we end up paying for the thefts because the cost gets passed onto the consumer."

Edwards presented the seven convicts as witnesses, had hard copies of the materials stolen from the jail records and on Wednesday presented testimony from a Georgia Bureau of Investigation special agent.

The agent testified to video tapes of Tharpe and an informant meeting in a vehicle and discussing the stolen material.

Officials said the case will probably go to the jury today. The jury comprises 10 women and four men, including the two alternates.