First Trump co-defendant pleads guilty in Fulton election case

Bail bondsman Scott Hall was charged in Coffee County data breach
Scott Hall, (left) along with his attorney Jeff Weiner, appears before Judge Scott McAfee on Friday, September 29, 2023 to plead guilty to charges related to his indictment in Fulton County.

Credit: Screenshot from Fulton County Superio

Credit: Screenshot from Fulton County Superio

Scott Hall, (left) along with his attorney Jeff Weiner, appears before Judge Scott McAfee on Friday, September 29, 2023 to plead guilty to charges related to his indictment in Fulton County.

Bail bondsman Scott Hall on Friday became the first defendant in the Fulton County election interference case to take a plea agreement with prosecutors, signaling the probe has entered a dynamic new phase.

During an impromptu hearing before Fulton Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, Hall, with his attorney by his side, pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference with the performance of election duties.

Hall agreed to testify truthfully when called, five years probation, a $5,000 fine, 200 hours of community service and a ban on polling and election administration-related activities. He also recorded a statement for prosecutors and pledged to pen a letter of apology to Georgia voters.

The agreement is a victory for prosecutors, who are preparing for at least two sets of trials involving what is now 18 defendants. Jury selection for the trial involving the first two defendants, Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, is slated to begin on Oct. 20.

A spokesman for District Attorney Fani Willis declined to comment.

Hall was indicted last month in connection with the breach of sensitive voting data in Coffee County in South Georgia on Jan. 7, 2021. He had been charged with racketeering and six felony counts of conspiracy.

Hall could be called to testify against Powell, whom prosecutors allege paid for the Coffee County trip as the Trump campaign sought evidence to support its claims of voter fraud.

Hall isn’t as well know as some of the other Trump co-defendants, but he played a wide-ranging role in efforts to subvert the 2020 election results in Georgia. Early in January 2021, he called Justice Department lawyer Jeffrey Clark, who was also indicted in the Trump case, and they talked for 63 minutes about the presidential election “in furtherance of the conspiracy,” according to the 98-page Fulton indictment.

Prosecutors said Friday that Hall chartered the plane which flew Trump allies and a team of computer analysts to Coffee County, some 200 miles southeast of Atlanta. The group spent hours at the county election office and copied Georgia’s statewide voting system software, which is supposed to be kept secure by election officials.

They also took official ballots outside of the polling place in violation of Georgia law, according to the indictment.

Hall is among those who were captured in surveillance video at the office. At one point he is seen massaging the shoulders of the Cathy Latham, the county Republican Party chairwoman who is also charged in the elections case.

Surveillance video of the Coffee County elections office shows bail bondsman Scott Hall giving county Republican Party Chairwoman Cathy Latham a massage on the day that tech experts copied confidential voting data on Jan. 7, 2021. Also pictured are Paul Maggio and Jennifer Jackson of SullivanStrickler, county elections board member Eric Chaney and an unidentified man. Source: Coffee County

Credit: Coffee County

icon to expand image

Credit: Coffee County

University of Georgia Law Prof. Melissa D. Redmon said it’s hard to say how much damage Hall could do to Powell’s defense at trial.

“But you’d have to assume it’s going to be something for (prosecutors) to offer him first-offender misdemeanors and he can go on about his life and keep his business,” said Redmon, a former Fulton prosecutor.

Powell’s attorney, Brian Rafferty, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Under the terms of the plea deal, it appears that Hall could keep his bail bond license. Under Georgia law, a professional bail bondsperson must be someone of “good moral character” who hasn’t been convicted of a felony “or any crime involving moral turpitude.”

The DA’s office clarified, and Hall’s attorney successfully asked McAfee to acknowledge, that Hall didn’t commit a crime involving moral turpitude.

Bail bondspeople must also remain compliant and in good standing with rules laid out by their local sheriffs, according to a spokesman for the Georgia Association of Professional Bondsmen.

“This determination is made annually solely by the individual county sheriffs in Georgia and is subject to their independent review,” the spokesman said. The determination ”can be based upon conduct that does not have to equate to criminal conduct or require a criminal conviction of any sort but rather a determination... (that the) actions were evidence of a pattern of behavior showing unethical and improper actions or otherwise contrary to the sheriff’s rules and regulations.”

It’s common for prosecutors to float plea deals in large, multi-defendant racketeering cases as they home in on the biggest targets in an alleged criminal scheme. In this case, former President Donald Trump and his former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani face the most charges.

“You want the ones at the table to be the most culpable and the ones you have the most evidence against,” said Redmon. “You don’t really want to be bothered with the low-hanging fruit if you don’t have to.”

During a separate meeting before McAfee on Friday, special prosecutor Nathan Wade disclosed that the DA’s office had yet to offer plea deals to Chesebro or Powell, but he said that will change in the near future.

“We’ll sit down and kind of put some things together, and we’ll reach out to defense counsel individually to extend an offer,” Wade said.

Staff writer Chris Joyner contributed to this article.