Charges against former sheriff's brother dropped

By Ed Brock

Charges of making harassing phone calls against Sheriff Victor Hill that were filed against the brother of Hill's predecessor have been dropped.

Mark Tuggle, brother of former Sheriff Stanley Tuggle, was arrested on those charges in January, shortly after Hill took office and fired 27 deputies on the office's command staff. Clayton County Solicitor General Leslie Miller-Terry said Tuesday she has "administratively dismissed" the charges after a thorough investigation.

"We didn't find there to be substantial evidence to take it to trial," Miller-Terry said.

For one thing, the solicitor general said the law requires that three phone calls be made, along with other circumstances, before one charge of harassing phone calls can be made. Tuggle only made two calls and they were not one after another or threatening, Miller-Terry said.

Miller-Terry said she had to consider the context of the calls Tuggle made.

Emotions were running high after the termination of the 27 deputies, all of whom later had their jobs restored by the courts. Several of the 27 had supported Stanley Tuggle in his bid for re-election.

In the first call he made, Tuggle left a message asking the receptionist, who had also worked at the office under Stanley Tuggle, to "please get me an appointment with that short little (expletive)," Miller-Terry said.

"To me that was not a threat," Miller-Terry said.

The next day Tuggle called back and asked for Hill. After being told that the sheriff was in a meeting, Tuggle began speaking with the deputy who answered the phone about the firing of the 27 deputies.

"Tuggle said a person who would do that is scum," Miller-Terry said. "I look at that as an opinion ... No one was threatened."

Also, Miller-Terry said that the fact that the second call was on the following day to a public number and Tuggle had not specifically said that Hill was scum also weakened the case for harassment.

Mark Tuggle said he did not want to comment on the case. Hill did not return a phone call seeking comment.