Facing disciplinary action for his conduct as commander of the county’s recently-disbanded narcotics squad, Glynn County Police Capt. David Hassler has resigned, Police Chief John Powell said Tuesday.
An internal affairs investigation completed March 26 concluded that Hassler failed to act on information regarding the wrongdoing of a detective under his command in the Glynn-Brunswick Narcotics Enforcement Team (GBNET). Hassler has been with the Glynn County Police Department for 20 years and leaves earning $85,158 annually, according to Glynn County spokesman Matthew Kent.
Hassler was commander of GBNET from the summer of 2016 until March of 2018. As a result of the internal affair investigation, Powell last month ordered the disbanding of GBNET, a drug enforcement unit comprised of county and Brunswick police officers.
The internal affairs investigation centered on GBNET investigator James Cassada, who was found by the investigation to have had inappropriate sexual relationships with two confidential informants. There were further allegations that Cassada consumed illegal drugs with the informants, but the investigation determined that this could not be proved conclusively.
Cassada resigned in early February as police department internal affairs investigators demanded he report for an interview.
The internal affairs investigation concluded that several officers came to Hassler with information about misconduct by Cassada. The investigation further concluded that Hassler denied being told by any of his GBNET subordinates about misbehavior by Cassada.
GBNET investigator Dustin Davis said he went to Hassler after Cassada’s wife called Davis’ wife in late 2017 to complain that Cassada was sleeping with an informant. Sgt. Brandon Gregory said he went to Hassler in 2017 after an informant confronted Cassada in a bar about having an affair with the other informant, causing a scene that derailed a drug operation, according to the internal affairs investigation. Also, Capt. Eugene Smith said he went to Hassler with still another GBNET investigator’s complaints that Cassada’s wife called his wife to complain about her husband’s infidelity with informants.
“Captain Hassler went on to say, ‘I don’t know anything about nothing to do with CI’s’ despite the fact that three subordinate employees gave statements of the opposite,” the investigation concluded. In another portion of the report, it states: “Captain Hassler either made false statements or withheld facts known to him during an internal affairs investigation.”
The investigation further concluded Hassler was negligent in his duties by not acting on the information provided.
“Captain Hassler was incompetent or negligent in the performance of his duties as Police Captain when he was made aware of immoral, unethical, and possible criminal allegations against a subordinate employee and failed to investigate the allegations or make the Police Chief aware of the allegations,” the investigation reported.
When the results of the internal affairs investigation were made public on March 29, Powell said stated in a release that Hassler would face disciplinary action as a result of the findings. Contacted later that day by The News, Powell said he had determined the nature of the discipline, but would not make it public until he had told Hassler personally.
Hassler had been on paid administrative leave, Powell said.
Hassler has since announced his intention to resign and retire from the police department, Powell said. Powell was traveling out of the area Tuesday and could not precisely when Hassler made it known.
“When he made a decision to submit his letter of retirement, he knew that he was facing disciplinary action,” Powell said.
Powell declined to reveal the nature of the discipline he intended to impose on Hassler, saying, “it has become a moot point.”
Glynn County Manager Alan Ours said Tuesday that he also had heard of Hassler’s intention to resign.
The only other officer facing disciplinary action as a result of the internal affairs investigation was GBNET Investigator John Simpson. During the investigation, it was revealed that Simpson re-established ties with an old friend who was twice convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine. Simpson was demoted from investigator to patrol officer for violating policy by associating with a convicted felon.
Cassada still could face criminal charges from a grand jury for his actions, said Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson. After the Georgia Bureau of Investigation conducted a criminal investigation on Cassada at the request of Powell, the agency said it did not intend to pursue charges against him.
However, the GBI turned its findings over to Johnson, and will let her office have the final say. The revelations of wrongdoing within GBNET could end up jeopardizing “a couple of hundred drug arrest cases,” Johnson said.
“I think, ultimately, this will end up in front of a grand jury,” Johnson told The News last week.