Recorded audio by a DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office deputy causes stir

FORT PAYNE, Ala. -- An audio recording between a DeKalb County Sheriff's Office deputy and another man, who he says is the assistant chief deputy, is causing a stir. In it, the deputy was told he won't be getting a new patrol car because of his lack of campaign involvement during the June primary election when the chief deputy was running for the Republican sheriff slot.

Deputy Terry Wadsworth says he's been with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office for 1 3 years. "The chief deputy asked me about the mileage on my vehicle, and I told him, I said 'it's around 140,000 miles'. He said 'well, you'll be getting a new car'," Wadsworth said.

But after the chief deputy, Michael Edmondson, lost the June Republican primary to Nick Welden, Wadsworth says Assistant Chief Deputy Stanley Hollingsworth told him they needed to have a talk. Hollingsworth was one of two deputies charged with distributing the new vehicles as they came in while Michael Edmondson was out on leave.

Wadsworth recorded that conversation between him and the man he says is Hollingsworth. Assistant Chief Deputy Hollingsworth did not respond to our request for comment or confirm, or deny, that it is he on the recording.  The second person in the audio transcript in this story is referred to as 'deputy'.

Deputy: "You know why you ain't going to get a car, Terry."
Deputy Wadsworth: "No, you need to explain it to me. I don't know."
Deputy: "Okay. During this election, did you help Michael in any shape, form or fashion?"
Deputy Wadsworth: "Well no, because I was working two jobs, Stanley."
Deputy: "I worked a lot, and I've got things to do at home."
Deputy Wadsworth:  "Mmhm."
Deputy: "But sometimes you just have to do what you have to do."

The audio goes on for 16 minutes.

Deputy Wadsworth: "Well see, he never did call me. If he had called me I would have done every effort I could to try to help him."

This is heard at the end of the recording:

Deputy: "Alright, no hard feelings, I hope."
Deputy Wadsworth: "Lord, no, Stanley. You know that."
Deputy: "I know."

"When I seemed fine with it is when I got told that there was no repercussions," Wadsworth said in an interview Monday. He added he was told during the conversation he wasn't to go to anyone else, and the conversation was to stay in the office.

But, he didn't get a new patrol car and it didn't stay in the office. His wife Ida Wadsworth posted part of the audio to social media. It's been shared hundreds of times. "It's nothing to do with politics; it's just right from wrong," Terry Wadsworth said.

In a statement, Chief Deputy Michael Edmondson said, "There are still cars to be given out. If someone would have come to me or the Sheriff about this we would have explained the situation. I was still out on annual leave when the new cars were being distributed, and I am getting to the bottom of this matter."

Sheriff Jimmy Harris said in a statement: "I have always allowed someone under me to be over passing out vehicles."

Wadsworth is out on medical leave and doesn't expect to go back to work for a while. He says he brought this to the District Attorney's office. They told us they won't comment at this time.

We reached out to DeKalb County sheriff candidates Nick Welden and John Baker for their comments.

Baker's statement reads: "Neither me nor my designated Chief Deputy were involved in that conversation and I do not know the facts involved in the conversation. Nevertheless, if I am elected Sheriff I will not take retribution in any form against people who do not support me."

Welden's statement reads: "I'm praying for the issue and everyone involved. It's sad things like this happen in politics, it's the type of events that give politics a bad name. I encourage people to pray hard for the whole ordeal and look at the truth."