Code enforcer wakes woman up in bed with citation

6:23 AM, Jul 13, 2012   |    comments
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Surveillance cameras caught an intruder going into Erica Masters' home in Martinez.(NBC)

MARTINEZ, Ga. -- A county code enforcer is out of a job after investigators say he entered a Georgia woman's home uninvited, then lied about it. The problem was, it was all caught on camera.

Surveillance cameras caught an intruder going to Erica Masters' bedroom in Martinez.

"One of our code enforcement officers had entered her house without her permission while she was asleep," said
Columbia County Administrator Scott Johnson.

"When I first woke up, all I saw was a big figure standing in my door way, almost as tall as the door frame itself," Masters said.

The video shows code enforcement officer Jimmy Vowell knock on Masters' front door, then peek his head in when the door swings open.

"He opened the door, poked his head inside for a little while, looked around," Masters said.

After a few more minutes of knocking and writing out a violation for overgrown grass, the video shows Officer Vowell walking in, straight to Masters' bedroom.

"It scared me out of my mind," she said. "I had no idea who was standing at my doorway. Nobody ever wants to wake up and find someone in their house, much less in their bedroom."

According to his personnel file, Vowell originally denied entering the home to his supervisors. However, investigators said he told them he thought he smelled something and that's why he went inside.  

"Unfortunately there was some conflicting information in those two stories," Johnson said. "Initially there was a statement that he had not entered the house made to a supervisor."

After an investigation, the county terminated Vowell for failing to follow policy and for making a false statement to a supervisor.

"We understand that people have the right to be secure in their own house," Johnson said. "The county just felt like that it was such an egregious violation of our policy that there was just no way for us to allow him to keep his job."

"It's a small victory, a very, very small victory," Masters said. "I just can't sleep anymore."

The homeowner is working on a lawsuit against the county.


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