DeKalb Sheriff Jeff Mann prepares for trial after indecency arrest
DeKalb Sheriff Jeff Mann, right, and attorney Noah Pines arrive for a hearing to plead not guilty in Atlanta Municipal Court on Friday. Mann was arrested and charged in Piedmont Park on May 6 for exposing himself and running from police. (JOHN AMIS)
DeKalb County Sheriff Jeff Mann is scheduled to go on trial next month after pleading not guilty Friday to charges that he exposed himself in Piedmont Park and ran from police.
Mann has yet talk specifics about the incident, but said previously he will clear his name.
Mann didn’t speak during his first court appearance Friday. His version of the events that led to his arrest could be made clear when he returns to Atlanta Municipal Court for a July 7 trial before Judge Crystal Gaines.
“He’s not guilty, your honor,” said Mann’s attorney, Noah Pines.
Mann has been fighting the allegations on several fronts since his May 6 arrest.
Besides contesting the charges, Mann also sought to stop an investigation ordered by Gov. Nathan Deal and preemptively imposed a one-week suspension on himself. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Eric Dunaway on Wednesday ruled that the investigation could continue.
Mann apologized for putting the county in an "unfavorable light" and said he will continue doing the job he was re-elected to in November.
Mann is accused of violating city of Atlanta ordinances for indecency and disorderly conduct/obstruction. Those charges come with potential fines of $1,453 and $753 respectively, according to the city’s criminal offense schedule posted online. A judge could impose different penalties if Mann is found guilty.
More significant than the fines are the threats to Mann’s job, which pays $147,098 a year. As sheriff, Mann oversees the DeKalb Jail, about 775 employees and an $83.6 million budget.
Deal could suspend Mann for up to 90 days, order an additional investigation by the GBI and request that the DeKalb District Attorney initiate proceedings that could remove the sheriff from office.
Geraldine Champion, a retired homicide detective who ran against Mann in the Democratic primary election last year, said he should resign.
“It’s a disgrace,” Champion said after attending Friday’s court proceeding. “He should step down, go back to where he came from and forget about DeKalb County so we can forget about him. The citizens of DeKalb County are saying, ‘You’ve got to go.’”
Mark Niesse covers voting rights and elections for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He also reports on the Georgia House of Representatives and government. He has been a reporter at the AJC since 2013 following a decade at The Associated Press in Atlanta, Honolulu and Montgomery, Ala.