Grand jury will investigate corruption charges against former sheriff

A Clayton County grand jury will convene later this month to hear corruption charges against former Sheriff Victor Hill.

Hill was notified Tuesday of the Jan. 18 grand jury meeting and handed a copy of the proposed indictment, said Steven Frey, a Jonesboro criminal attorney who is representing Hill. By law, a law enforcement officer must be given 15 days’ notice plus a copy of the proposed indictment. The grand jury is investigating Hill on allegations that include theft by taking, violation of oath of office, and racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations, or RICO. The indictment deals with crimes alleged to have been committed in 2007 and 2008, Frey said.

“At this point, I’d rather take an opportunity to study the indictment rather than comment on the contents of the indictment,” Frey said. “If these charges are in fact filed, he will enter a plea of not guilty and vigorously defend it.”

To avoid the appearance of political impropriety, Clayton District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson appointed Layla Zon last month to head the probe into Hill’s corruption charges. Zon is district attorney for the Alcovy Judicial Circuit, which includes Walton and Newton counties.

This is not the first brush with controversy for Hill who announced last year he intends to run for sheriff this year.

On his first day as sheriff in 2005, Hill fired 27 deputies who later were awarded $7 million from Clayton County in a wrongful termination suit. Hill also was criticized for giving badges to more than 100 friends not in law enforcement.

Hill lost his 2008 re-election bid. Hill filed for bankruptcy the day before leaving office.