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Charges against Newton, Powell dropped

JONESBORO — With Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill acquitted on all felony charges, the cases against two former deputies were dismissed in Superior Court.

Beatrice Powell and Jonathan Newton testified against Hill during his August trial. Powell was described during the trial as both Hill’s employee and live-in girlfriend.

Powell faced charges of perjury and theft by taking in connection with several weeks of vacation during which she traveled with Hill. Prosecutors alleged she lied about having a medical condition to take sick leave when in fact she was traveling across the Southeast with Hill.

Newton worked under Hill as his public information officer and was in charge of his newsletter, “The Star.” Prosecutors alleged that Newton worked a scheme to transfer county funds earmarked for the newsletter for his own use.

Newton testified about the scheme during Hill’s trial.

He also became emotional when asked about Hill’s mental state the day after Hill lost his first re-election bid in 2008. Newton was stopped from answering the question by an objection by the defense.

However, Newton had previously told members of the press that Hill was alternately suicidal and homicidal in the aftermath of his loss. Newton said Hill waved a gun around inside his home and Newton feared for his life and the lives of others.

It was during that time that Newton and other Hill supporters reportedly talked Hill into taking a vacation. It was that vacation — to the north Georgia mountains, to Biloxi, Miss., and to his hometown in Charleston, S.C., to visit his mother — that led prosecutors to indict him for using county vehicles and funds for personal use.

A jury found Hill not guilty on all charges.