A Blount County deputy accused of driving to North Carolina to have sex with a minor has been fired.
James Eugene Patty Jr.,48, of Maryville, was arrested Thursday morning in the Asheville area on a charge of solicitation of a child by computer. He was taken to the Buncombe County Detention Center under a $50,000 bond, according to a release from the Asheville Police Department.
According to investigators, Patty traveled to Asheville to have what he thought was a sexual encounter with an underage girl. He was arrested, however, in an Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force investigation by the APD, the State Bureau of Investigation, and the Boone Police Department.
The release notes that they were also assisted by the Tennessee ICAC Task Force and the Blount County Sheriff’s Office.
He was fired Friday for violating department policy, according to a memo from the Sheriff's Office.
“I will not tolerate the actions and behavior of James Patty or any other deputy who breaks the law or acts unethically,” Sheriff James Lee Berrong said in a statement.
"His actions are an embarrassment and a black mark on me and the men and women of the Blount County Sheriff’s Office and law enforcement in general."
Berrong went on to say, "The act of one does not take away the good deeds of others. This agency proudly serves the citizens of Blount County. I understand that an apology for Patty’s actions on behalf of this agency may not be enough, but it is my hope that our citizens will realize that his actions are not a reflection of the fine deputies who serve with honor and integrity each day.”
It's not the first time Patty has been terminated.
In February 2007, he was suspended without pay for an unspecified incident, records in his personnel file show. He then was fired a short time later.
No documents states explicitly why Patty was suspended, but a Feb. 9, 2007, memo from the chief deputy mentions a conversation in which Patty said he "had internal problems and simply needed time to sort them out."
In his memo, Chief Deputy Ron Dunn also encouraged Patty to review the department's code of conduct including sections regarding insubordination, unbecoming conduct, unsatisfactory performance and ridicule of the Sheriff's Office.
He was fired Feb. 14, 2007.
In November 2011, 4 1/2 years later, Patty was hired back at the same level of pay and with no credit for time served, documents show.
Patty generally received evaluations that showed he met expectations or exceeded them. He was noted for enjoying working in the traffic safety unit.
Records show an instance in which a bank levy was filed by a Georgia credit card firm. Patty received a caution about the levy.