Clayton sheriff’s racketeering trial set for Aug. 5

The 32-count racketeering and theft trial of Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill is set to begin Aug. 5 now that a pre-trial appeal that sidetracked the case has been resolved.

Clayton County Superior Court Judge Albert Collier signed the order on Friday. Attorneys don’t yet know how long it will take to try the case.

Hill was indicted in January 2012 on charges of racketeering, theft by taking, influencing a witness and making a false statement. He allegedly used county cars and credit cards for his personal benefit when he was sheriff between Jan. 1, 2005 and Dec. 31, 2008. He also is accused of using Sheriff’s Office employees to work on his personal and political projects during hours they were supposed to be working for the county.

Hill, who lost his office in 2008, was elected to serve as Clayton sheriff again in 2012. He took office Jan. 1.

His case was initially set to go to trial last fall, but it was put on hold when special prosecutor Layla Zon asked the Georgia Court of Appeals to review Collier’s dismissal of five of the original counts that concerned Hill’s use of campaign funds. Collier had ruled the funds belonged to Hill and so he could not be charged with stealing his own money.

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Usually, prosecutors must first ask the trial judge to reconsider a decision, but Zon tried to appeal directly to the appellate court using a recently passed law that allows such actions. The Court of Appeals said she could not apply that new law retroactively.

Zon, the district attorney in Newton and Walton Counties, became prosecutor on the case when Clayton District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson recused herself and her office to avoid any allegations that Hill’s prosecution was driven by politics.