Tag: Layla Zon

20
Oct

Two elections for Sheriff making news in Georgia

The dismissal of five felony counts in the indictment against former and likely-future Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill brings the tally to 32 remaining counts.

A Superior Court judge has dropped theft and racketeering charges against former Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill, reducing the number of criminal counts Hill is facing to 32.

Hill, who is set to go to trial Nov. 26, is under criminal indictment on charges that he enriched himself with sheriff’s department resources and money donated to his failed 2008 re-election campaign.

The outside prosecutor handling the case, Layla Zon, the prosecutor in Walton and Newton counties, could not be reached for comment Friday.

One of Hill’s attorneys, Drew Findling, considers the dropped charges a victory in Hill’s fight to get all of the charges dismissed.

“This was a tremendous blow to the prosecution,” Findling said.

Late Thursday, [Judge] Collier dismissed two racketeering counts and three theft-by-taking charges because, he wrote, it was unclear who actually “owned” the campaign money. The theft-by-taking charges were the basis for the two racketeering counts.

“Georgia statutes do not establish the ownership of those funds,” Collier wrote.

The indictment accuses Hill of depositing $24,000 in checks to the Committee to Reelect Victor Hill Sheriff and eventually diverting the money to him.

Misuse of campaign funds is a misdemeanor, the judge noted; the two-year statue of limitations on that crime has passed. A racketeering charge requires at least two felony charges as a basis.

If convicted, Hill would be prohibited from taking the office on Jan. 1. And if he is acquitted, Hill will still have to persuade the Peace Officers Standards and Training Council to reinstate his suspended state law enforcement certification.

In Baker County, southwest of Albany, the election for Sheriff is struck from the November ballot and will be contested on January 8, 2013 due to possible corruption in the August 29th runoff. According to WALB,

Attorney Tommy Coleman tells WALB that citizens will vote on that date after Dougherty County Judge Loring Gray blocked the November election, after serious allegations of voter irregularities in the July Primary.

Incumbent Sheriff Dana Meade won the August runoff by 39 votes over challenger Tim Williamson.

After Williamson sued, the court found evidence of votes bought for $20 and free liquor.

There was also evidence of absentee ballots changed from votes for Williamson to votes for Meade.

An earlier ruling had placed a re-do of the August runoff on the November ballot.

Judge Gray ordered a new election held at the same time as the general election November 6th.

However, that creates problems for the election board, since early voting has already started.

Sheriff Dana Meade won the August runoff by 39 votes over challenger Tim Williamson. After Williamson sued, the court found evidence of votes bought for $20 and free liquor. There was also evidence of absentee ballots changed from votes for Williamson to votes for Meade.

Baker County Attorney Tommy Coleman is handing the case for the county elections board.

“That whole line, 14 of them was stricken through with one kind of ink, and remarked for another candidate. So it was clear that there was some sort of concerted organized activity,” Coleman said.