Michael Stuart Winner, 45, was arrested around 3 p.m. Thursday while leaving his Sandy Springs home, Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren said. He is charged with four counts of conspiracy to commit crime, three counts of unlawful trading with inmates, and one count each of a violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act and “use of communications facilities to violate provisions prohibited,” all felonies.
Winner was being held Friday on $10,000 bond at the Cobb County Adult Detention Center.
Winner provided female inmates at the jail with prescription drugs and legal help in exchange for the women lifting up their tops to expose their breasts, which Winner would watch from the other side of a glass partition, Warren said. He said the inmates also promised Winner sex when they were released from jail.
Warren said the number of inmates that Winner made these exchanges with was still under investigation. While he said it was more than one, it was not widespread.
“It’s very unfortunate, and it’s an isolated incident,” Warren said.
The investigation into Winner’s activities went on for a little over two weeks, Warren said. The Cobb Sheriff’s Office Fugitive Unit, Marietta Cobb Smyrna Narcotics Unit and Sandy Springs Police Criminal Investigations Unit all participated in the arrest.
“It’s my job to ensure safety and security for the facility,” Warren said. “I’m not going to tolerate any issues of anyone bringing in contraband.”
Winner’s legal activities have come under question in the past.
On June 9, 2010, the Georgia Supreme Court suspended Winner from practicing law in the state after he failed to adequately respond to a state bar association investigation. According to court documents, the suspension was lifted on July 20, 2010, once he properly responded.
Documents show that Winner was being investigated for violations of Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct rules 3.1 and 8.4. If proven, the violations could have led to his disbarment.
The bar association did not respond to requests for information on the results of the investigation. According to the bar’s website, Rule 3.1 prohibits attorneys from taking legal action when the action’s only purpose is to harass or maliciously injure someone or to knowingly advance a claim that is unwarranted under existing law.
While violations of Rule 3.1 could only result in a reprimand, violations of Rule 8.4 could result in disbarment. Among the acts prohibited by Rule 8.4 are lawyers that have been convicted of a felony or engaging in conduct that involves dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
Warren said he wasn’t familiar with past investigations of Winner’s conduct. Since he started with the sheriff’s office in 1977, Warren can’t recall an incident of an attorney bringing contraband into the jail.
“The vast majority of attorneys in Cobb County are very honest,” he said. “They all have taken their oath of office very seriously. It really bothers me when something like this happens.”
Calls to a phone number listed for Winner’s law practice Friday were greeted with a message saying, “The wireless customer you have called is not available at this time.”