Photo by Kathy Jefcoats
Steve Frey (r) with Sheriff Victor Hill in January when indictments were handed down.
JONESBORO — Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill no longer has the spectre of suspension hanging over him.
On Hill’s third day in office, Gov. Nathan Deal announced his decision to not form a panel to review possible suspension of the sheriff, who is under a 32-count felony indictment. Deal said his interpretation of state law allows suspension only in cases where the official was holding office when indicted.
Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said because Hill had been out of office for more than three years, he was a private citizen and not an elected official.
“Therefore, state law prohibits the appointment of a suspension panel at this time,” he said.
Steve Frey, one of four attorneys defending Hill in the criminal case, said he was elated at the news.
“We’re extremely pleased,” he said Thursday. “We were confident all along. I know I read that law about 500 times.”
Hill was indicted in January on 37 counts mostly related to alleged wrongdoing while he was in office from 2005 to 2008 when he lost a bid for re-election. His defense team got five counts dropped but that decision was appealed by special prosecutor Layla Zon.
Defense attorneys countered with their own appeal. The actions delayed the Nov. 27 trial for up to a year. Frey said he is hopeful that an exoneration isn’t far behind.
“We anticipate a favorable ruling from the Court of Appeals and expect a jury acquittal,” he said.
Hill quietly returned to the sheriff’s office at midnight Monday, in sharp contrast to his 2005 ascension when he fired 27 deputies on his first day.