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Grand jury indicts ex-Gwinnett County Sheriff's deputy

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GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. -

The Gwinnett Sheriff's major once in charge of protecting all courthouse personnel faces a 14-count indictment, including lying to a GBI agent.

Former Deputy Nick Neal earlier told FOX 5 I-Team reporter Randy Travis that he was the victim of racism, but Randy says the district attorney insists the charges point to a rogue cop.

After the FOX 5 I-Team broke the story that the GBI was investigating the former high-ranking Gwinnett County sheriff's deputy, Neal said, "How much influence can I have over a county commissioner? How could I do that? I'm a deputy. A black deputy. Black people don't have no authority in Gwinnett County."

Fourteen months later, a grand jury accuses Neal of theft, identity fraud and using his position to profit from the sale of thousands of dollars in expensive brake pads to the county.

"I think the most disturbing part of it is that it was his position as a county employee that the state would allege that gave him access to sell these items, to have access to the right people," said Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter.

Neal spent 15 years with the sheriff's department, but a series of internal affairs investigations prompted the district attorney to refuse to prosecute any cases that relied on Neal's testimony.

Instead, Neal wound up a major in charge of all courthouse security, only to be moved again once the district attorney discovered an anonymous email alleging corruption in his office came from one of Neal's outside businesses.

Neal told FOX 5 that he didn't know anything about the email.

But even after Sheriff Butch Conway removed Major Neal as head of security, the indictment says his criminal troubles began. Neal is accused of lying to a GBI agent, identity fraud, theft by taking -- even taking advantage of Fleetwood Towing, a company where Neal often spent time off-duty.

"The gist of the accusation is that he went into the Fleetwood Towing corporate account and paid his own American Express bill even after all the other investigations had been initiated... even after I believe he had talked to [FOX 5]," Porter said.

In a phone interview with Randy Travis on Wednesday, Neal suggested again the investigation is race-based, saying "with all the corruption in Gwinnett County, it's laughable what Porter chooses to investigate."

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