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Commission asks for investigation of district attorney

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

The Clayton County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution asking for the investigation of the District Attorney's office.

The two-fold resolution Tuesday night also honors Donald Ray Hood, the recently deceased, former director of the county's maintenance department. He was being prosecuted by the district attorney on charges he stole a flag intended for the memorial of a fallen police officer.

Passed by the four present members of the five-member board, the resolution questions the prosecution and requests a formal investigation by the Georgia Attorney General.

"This Board," the resolution reads, "is concerned and alarmed by the Clayton County District Attorney's actions in the investigation, indictment and prosecution of Mr. Hood, and whether the District Attorney has used her position inappropriately to investigate employees, officials and departments on behalf of political supporters."

The Hood family's lawyer, William J. Atkins, alleges that District Attorney Jewel Scott aggressively went after Hood as part of a political plan. Hood died on Friday, apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, two days after pleading not guilty and after the district attorney's office announced that it would move to take away his county retirement pension.

Atkins said Hood was just a pawn in an elaborate political conspiracy that allegedly involves Jewel Scott's husband, Lee, and his upcoming campaign against Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell, and long-time antagonism between Hood and Lovejoy Mayor Joe Murphy.

The members of the commission backed Atkins' allegations, with their vote on Tuesday night.

The formal request will be sent to the Attorney General's Office in the coming days. The office is expected to review the allegations against the county's district attorney, and decide whether to pursue the case.

Commissioner Wole Ralph called Hood a "pillar of the community," and said, "it is not just important, it is a moral imperative that we make sure that that office, the district attorney's office, functions within the full compliance of the law."

Chairman Bell, adding an oblique reference to turmoil at the Clayton County School Board, said it is "a time when responsible leadership in this county will stand up."

Residents and county officials at the crowded board meeting applauded, and some shouted, "Here, here!"

Commissioner Sonna Singleton said, "It's just terrible how this thing has transpired." She added, "It is just terrible that we've stooped to this level" where unfounded allegations are taken seriously and taken up by prosecutors.

The district attorney's office, according to Scott, is conducting an ongoing investigation into allegations that Singleton and Bell have had county employees, using county materials, do work on their homes. The charges against Hood spun out of that investigation, and Hood was asked about alleged illegal work that might have been done, or that he might have heard about, during his time with the county.

Reached by phone Tuesday after the vote, Jewel Scott said all the details about the Hood investigation, allegations, and prosecution will come out "real soon" and then "everybody will see the strength of the case."

"I maintain," Scott said, "that our office did not do anything wrong in respect to the Hood case and that the Attorney General's Office will be welcome to look at anything we did, provided they have the jurisdiction."

Scott said she doesn't believe the board of commissioners is motivated "out of concern for the Hood family." She said the commissioners are using the man's tragic death to aid them in maligning her and going on a "fishing expedition" to find out what evidence the district attorney's office has against them.