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Sheriff's son facing drug, DUI charges

CONYERS — The son of Rockdale County Sheriff Jeff Wigington was arrested over the weekend on drunk driving and other charges after he allegedly admitted to drinking in a Newton County bar.

John Jeffrey Wigington, 20, was booked in the Rockdale County Jail just after 6 a.m. Sunday. He bonded out about four hours later. He faces charges of driving under the influence of alcohol under 21 years of age, open container violation and possession of marijuana less than an ounce.

The charges stem from a traffic stop that took place at 3:51 a.m. at the intersection of Honey Creek Road and Clubhouse Lane in south Rockdale County, according to incident reports. Sheriff's deputies were originally looking for a hit and run suspect vehicle when they stopped the black GMC Jimmy.

Wigington was the driver of the vehicle with three other passengers — William Luke Kadel, 18, of Conyers; Zachery William Cheek, 20, of Mansfield; and Tyler McCay Sutton, 21, of Conyers.

Responding deputies reportedly smelled marijuana when approaching the vehicle. Kadel, who was in the front passenger seat, gave the deputy several large chunks of loose marijuana. And Cheek, a rear passenger, untied his shoe and removed a multi-colored marijuana glass pipe, which was loaded with partially burned marijuana, the report states.

A vehicle search turned up a total of four open containers of an alcoholic beverage and six beers in a plastic bag on the back floorboard. There was also a bag of marijuana and a bag of marijuana seeds found in the vehicle's console, according to the RCSO incident report.

John Wigington allegedly admitted to deputies that he and the other men were smoking marijuana and drinking at a bar in Newton County. Law enforcement administered three field sobriety tests on Wigington, including a breath test at the jail where he registered at 0.105, according to the incident report.

Sheriff Wigington told the Citizen on Tuesday that his son was treated just as anyone else.

"My deputies did their jobs exactly as they were supposed to do, and John received no special treatment," Wigington said. "I love my son very much, and I know he regrets — and has already learned from — this situation."

The sheriff questioned why his son's arrest was newsworthy when his son was not a public official.

"Obviously, our children don't always do as we would like, but I'm sure that all of us have done some things along the way that we regret," Wigington said. "When I ran for sheriff, I knew that I would be scrutinized, but it seems unfair that the families of public officials bear that burden as well. Unfortunately for John, he is being singled out for public attention because of his last name."

Kadel, Cheek and Sutton face charges of possession of marijuana less than an ounce.