Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill will keep his job after jurors found him not guilty in his corruption case.
Today's verdict will allow a suspension of Hill's law enforcement certification to be lifted and for the sheriff to continue to fulfill his elected duties.
After two days of deliberation, jurors cleared the lawman on 25 charges including racketeering, theft by taking, and making false statements. They also threw out one count each of theft by taking and making false statements.
Hill was re-elected in 2012 as Clayton County sheriff and took office last January for a second non-consecutive term, all while facing 32 pending felony charges that date back to his controversial first term between 2005 and 2008. Several of those counts had been dropped earlier this month.
Prosecutors didn't comment after the verdict. But the AJC nicely sums up the argument they presented, which ultimately wasn't believed by jurors:
Prosecutors presented evidence that Hill drove his county-issued cars on out-of-state vacations, taking with him female companions who also worked for him. He used his county issued credit card to buy gas while on the road, to buy electronics during his trip to south Florida the day after he lost his 2008 re-election bid and to pay $140 toward the cost of renting a three-bedroom cabin in Helen in the north Georgia mountains.
He was also charged with stealing from taxpayers when he had one of his traveling companions classified as on paid administrative leave and out sick so she could continue to get her county salary while vacationing with the sheriff.
The last of the charges accused Hill of having his then-spokesman Jonathan Newton work on his autobiography during county work hours and of steering kickbacks from a publisher to Newton.
Hill's attorney told reporters that because the sheriff would soon return to performing his elected duties, he decided to "not dignify what was exposed" with a response following a trial that they believed was prompted by people with a vendetta against Hill "from the ballot box to the jury box."
Hill's attorney calls charges "ridiculous" and "unjust." #VictorHill pic.twitter.com/GkRvXzw8uQ #news
- Eden Godbee (@edengodbee) August 15, 2013
Here's a screenshot of Hill and his attorney in the courtroom today:
The most brilliant man I know. So proud of my dad and of course Sheriff Victor Hill! pic.twitter.com/zVcMjYgB9o
- maddie findling (@findling_nem0) August 15, 2013
The sheriff's lawyers estimated that the investigation and trial cost "more than $1 million." And that doesn't include the estimated $475,000 in legal debt that Hill wants taxpayers to foot.
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