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Special purpose grand jury dissolved, makes recommendations

JONESBORO — After two and a half years, Clayton County’s special purpose grand jury was dissolved Tuesday afternoon.

Superior Court Judge Matthew Simmons first heard dozens of recommendations made toward Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill, Clayton County Board of Commissioners, Clayton County Water Authority and cities of Morrow and Lovejoy.

Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson said although the body is dissolved, other indictments could be sought.

“Investigations are ongoing,” she said, without being specific.

The grand jury’s investigative work resulted in the 37-count indictment of Hill and separate indictments of his former employees, Beatrice Powell and Jonathan Newton; CCWA manager Herbert Etheridge; former Morrow City Manager John Lampl; resignation of Lovejoy Mayor Joseph Murphy and an investigation into Clayton County Finance Director Angela Jackson.

The body was convened in April 2011 and heard testimony from 120 witnesses. Unnamed elected and appointed officials invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to testify before the body, said Lawson.

The refusal to cooperate with a sitting grand jury appalled jurors, they told Simmons. Arlandus Sumlin, the grand juror doorkeeper, was more specific after Tuesday’s appearance before Simmons.

“I felt they were hiding something,” he said. “Why invoke your Fifth Amendment right if you have nothing to hide?”

Sumin said several of those officials were people he’d voted for, supported and respected.

“I was surprised and disappointed,” he said.

Check Friday’s Clayton News Daily for updates to this article.