Hearing set on gag order in Hill case

Victor Hill takes his oath of office as sheriff of Clayton County Dec. 15, 2004. (File Photo)

Victor Hill takes his oath of office as sheriff of Clayton County Dec. 15, 2004. (File Photo)

As the wheels of justice grind toward a resolution of the 37-count criminal indictment issued against former Clayton County sheriff, Victor Hill, on Jan. 18, a separate, misdemeanor case filed against a current deputy has been dismissed.

A hearing on a gag order in the Hill case has been set for Feb. 9. In the motion filed Jan. 24, in Clayton County Superior Court, the state asks that all attorneys, potential witnesses, and law enforcement officers, be restricted from talking to the media. The motion mentions the "inordinate amount of publicity" the case has generated, and the need to ensure a fair trial.

The motion will be decided by Judge Albert Collier, who got the case after Judge Geronda Carter recused herself on Jan. 20, according to court records.

Hill, 47, was indicted on 37 counts, including influencing a witness, violation of his oath of office, racketeering, theft and lying. Hill was arrested Jan. 18, and held in the Gwinnett County Jail for two days before bonding out.

He maintains his innocence and said the prosecution is politically motivated.

Clayton Superior Court Judge Matthew Simmons set strict bond conditions for Hill, including the surrender of his passport. Hill is to not have any contact with prosecution witnesses.

According to court filings, those witnesses include: former Hill deputy, Beatrice Powell, who was indicted with Hill; former Hill deputy, Naomi Nash, who testified before the grand jury and gave evidence against Hill; former Hill spokesman, Jonathan Newton, indicted last May on charges related to his old job; Hyung Pak, James Ahn; Grant Kidd, a former driver for Hill; announced Clayton County sheriff's candidate, Ricky Redding; Angela Jolly, a personnel officer at the Clayton sheriff's office; and Sheriff's Deputy Terry Jerome Lee.

Lee was arrested Jan. 20, on a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of an officer. Clayton State Court records allege that Lee, 40, physically obstructed four sheriff's investigators from taking a cell phone "for safekeeping and to preserve evidence pending a subpoena."

The warrant alleges that Lee grabbed the phone off the table, and struggled with the investigators, while trying to get the phone –– and after being arrested.

Solicitor General Tasha Mosley dismissed the case against Lee late Wednesday afternoon. Mosley said, in her dismissal motion, that probable cause to prove the case against Lee to a judge or jury, did not exist. "The State's burden is reasonable doubt, and while probable cause for arrest may have existed, that does not mean that case can be proven beyond such doubt," states the motion.

Sheriff's Lt. Brian Crisp, said Lee is on unpaid administrative leave pending the outcome of both an internal, and Georgia Bureau of Investigation, review of the allegations.

Hill was elected Clayton County's first black sheriff in 2004, and served one term before being voted out in 2008. Since the defeat, Hill has talked about running a third time, vowing within minutes of being indicted to continue his campaign.