WAYCROSS, Ga. - A Ware County assistant district attorney was arrested Wednesday after she shoplifted $600 worth of clothes from the Belk department store in Waycross, authorities said.
Emily Williams was fired the following day, according to the district attorney's office.
"The reality, though, is her role in law enforcement, her ability to enforce the law, that's over," said Randy Reep, a local attorney who is unaffiliated with the case.
The Waycross Police Department said Williams, 41, was seen draping clothes over her shoulder and carrying a bag as she entered a dressing room at the Belk retail store on Memorial Drive.
She then exited the dressing room, passed the cash registers without stopping and walked out the front doors with her purse and a carryall, both of which were filled with clothing, according to an arrest report.
Half-way to her car, police said, she was stopped in the parking lot by a store security officer.
The total value of the clothing she took was $604.77, police said.
In her purse, the report said, the arresting officer found a small bottle without a prescription label that contained eight small, white pills. Police said the pills were identified as Ativan, which is a generic form of lorazepam -- a sedative used to relieve anxiety.
"Do drugs play a part in the crime? Regrettably, often, when you see otherwise middle-class Americans committing crimes, you can almost look with arms reach and find the narcotics, or the anti-anxieties or the psychotropic drugs that are, regrettably, an epidemic in our country," Reep said.
Williams, of Blackshear, Georgia, is charged with theft by shoplifting, possession of narcotics and possession of narcotics not in their original container.
She was booked into the Ware County Jail, where she's being held on $6,000 bond.
Reep, who has dealt with similar cases, said a prosecutor could argue for Williams to be put in a pretrial diversion program to address whether drugs were the underlying cause. But after the arrest, he said, she will no longer be able to work in law enforcement.
"Imagine, if you will, if you have young prosecutors that are trying to hold people to a standard that they themselves cannot meet," Reep said. "There's no way that an elected official can stand having those people in their employment."
According to Reep, fellow prosecutors will not be able to prosecute Williams because of a conflict of interest.
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