The Board of Commissioners will consider the proposed ordinance, 2022-271, this Tuesday, December 20 at 6:30 p.m. The public will not be allowed to comment until after the first reading.
UPDATE 12/19 10:22 p.m.: FIXES minor typos throughout
A proposed ordinance on the Clayton County Board of Commissioners’ December 20, 2022 agenda would allow the chief deputy of the Clayton County Sheriff’s Department to fill the vacant seat of any elected county official, including the BOC itself.
The proposed ordinance would affect any vacancies in these offices:
- Clerk of Superior Court
- Probate Court Judge
- Tax Receiver
- Tax Collector
- Tax Commissioner, “where such office has replaced the tax receiver and tax collector”
Under the proposed ordinance, “the chief deputy or highest ranking official within the affected county office shall fill the vacancy until such time that the office is filled by election, appointment or otherwise.”
The ordinance, which would take effect January 3, 2023, would codify Chief Deputy Levon Allen’s takeover of the Clayton County Sheriff’s seat once Acting Sheriff Roland Boehrer retires on December 31.
Boehrer is not eligible to be sworn in as sheriff because he does not live in Clayton County.
The proposed ordinance also would guarantee that a commissioner who has been removed “from a commissioner district…shall continue to serve” and that the commissioner’s removal “shall not create a vacancy on the board of commissioners if such commissioner remains a qualified resident of Clayton County”:
In other words, if a commissioner were indicted on criminal charges, that person would not lose their seat. In November, voters overwhelmingly approved removal and suspension of pay for state-level officials indicted on felony charges.
Hill continued to receive his county paycheck while under indictment in the restraint-chair case. The county also paid Boehrer as “Standing Sheriff,” voting on May 3 to pay him a stipend retroactive to June 2021. In essence, the county was paying for two sheriffs at the same time that CCSO claimed it had no sheriff who could address longstanding civil service cases involving CCSO employees, the elected sheriff had no law enforcement powers, the chief of staff (Mitzi Bickers) and elected sheriff (Hill) were under federal indictment but allegedly continuing to issue orders to command staff.
One benefit the ordinance would give Allen in the upcoming March special election for sheriff is an incumbent’s notation on the ballot, even though he would have served for less than 90 days by election time. The letter I in parentheses following a candidate’s name generally gives a candidate a boost at the ballot box. The election is tentatively scheduled for March 21.
Another boost Allen is getting is former Sheriff Victor Hill’s endorsement. Allen and Hill posed at a chessboard under the watchful eye of Marlon Brando as Don Corleone on a movie poster from “The Godfather.” The post refers to Allen as “Incoming Sheriff”:
Carl Johnson, Hill’s social media manager, had been silent since his boss’ conviction on six of seven counts of violating pretrial detainees’ rights under color of law in the federal restraint chair abuse case. Hill, who is scheduled for sentencing in February, took early retirement before Georgia POST revoked his law enforcement certification.
But Hill’s Nixle, Facebook, and Instagram accounts sprang back to life a few days ago, and Allen is leveraging those assets to campaign for sheriff. (Taxpayers pick up the tab for Nixle.) A version of Hill’s badge logo has replaced Hill’s name with Allen’s and “Sheriff” with “Chief Deputy.”
A digital flyer depicts Allen in full dress uniform and promotes a winter coat giveaway set for January 20 at two Juicy Crab locations: one in Jonesboro; the other well inside the Perimeter on Howell Mill Road in Midtown.
In case there were any doubt about Hill’s endorsement, Johnson created an even more explicit post Sunday morning, complete with a Bible verse mixing church and state for a candidate for office with law enforcement powers in an increasingly multicultural, multifaith jurisdiction:
“When they came to the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken away.’ And Elisha replied, ‘Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit and become your successor.’ Introducing the young man groomed by Victor Hill to be his successor, Levon Allen, our next Sheriff of Clayton County!”
Allen appeared alongside Hill in videos introduced as evidence during Hill’s federal trial on the former sheriff’s use of restraint chairs as punishment against pretrial detainees:
Allen also exchanged text messages with Hill about the 17-year-old he had arrested after the teen trashed his mother’s house. The teen did not resist arrest. Hill texted, “How old is he?” Allen texted back,”17″, to which Hill replied, “Chair”:
As of press time, Allen has not been indicted for his role in the restraint chair incidents.
Shortly after Hill’s conviction, the BOC voted 3-2 to approve a $37,921 raise for Allen, bringing his salary to $166,344.
Allen also had been ordered by Hill to serve, along with other CCSO command staff, on a security detail assigned to District 3 Commissioner Felicia Franklin, District 1 Commissioner Alieka Anderson, and District 2 Commissioner Gail Hambrick.
After The Clayton Crescent pointed out on December 13 that Allen had begun campaigning but that the county Elections and Registration website did not show any public-facing copy of a Declaration of Intent, a PDF copy of Allen’s DOI dated October 31, 2022 appeared on the site. A check of the Georgia Campaign Finance System’s records also shows the same PDF copy was received on October 31, but the file that was uploaded to the site reads, “Levon Allen Jr – 2022 Form DOI- Sheriff- November 4 , 2024“.
In recent months, Allen, Maj. Brandon Criss, and another deputy have shown up at BOC meetings, sat in the audience during the meeting, and jumped up to escort the commissioners between the dais and the back hallway and to run interference with audience members and the press. Anderson and Franklin have not responded to The Clayton Crescent’s requests for comments or clarifications for several months, while Anderson has ejected from public Zoom meetings citizens in her district who have criticized her actions. Chief among those is Carol Yancey, a neighborhood organizer and vocal critic of Anderson, Franklin, and Hambrick. Anderson has paid convicted Atlanta pay-for-play and campaign guru Mitzi Bickers’ Pirouette Company for help getting elected to the District 1 seat. while Franklin and Criss wrote letters asking a federal judge to impose a shorter prison sentence on Bickers.
Anderson also posed with Criss alongside the chiefs of the Clayton County police and fire departments—although Boehrer heads CCSO—to promote a “million-dollar shootout” and golf tournament to benefit county first responders. The video apparently was produced by county employees. After the tournament, Anderson said that nobody won the million-dollar prize. The Clayton Crescent asked for a list of tournament winners, as well as the source of the million-dollar prize immediately after the tournament, but has yet to get that information. A sign at the event showed Allan Vigil Ford’s logo next to the million-dollar shootout.
The tournament was held at Lake Spivey Golf Club, which is owned through a series of corporations by businessman and minister C.H. Braddy and has become a nexus of activity for friends of Hill and Bickers, including Bickers, her wife and Pirouette Companies CEO Keyla Jackson, Anderson, Allen, and others.
Both Franklin and Anderson face separate slander lawsuits by Parks and Recreation employee Brandon Turner after mass-forwarding a false claim that Turner was a convicted felon. The Clayton Crescent found court records on file in Henry County that showed Turner had been exonerated in 2008. Franklin has been increasingly on the attack against BOC Chairman Jeff Turner, who is Brandon Turner’s father and who reportedly has been targeted by Hill.
The county is picking up the $375 per hour tab for Franklin’s defense in federal court, where former Chief Financial Officer Ramona Bivins has filed suit against them over her termination. (Hambrick and Anderson’s representation in the case reportedly runs $215 per hour.)
Bivins argues the commissioners violated her First Amendment rights over her husband’s support of Davis’ campaign.
In her complaint, Bivins alleges that Franklin and Anderson joked about her imminent dismissal and that Anderson asked, “Should I get us a bottle?” after the termination. Bivins also alleges that Anderson told Chief Operating Officer that he did not need to repay his graduate school tuition—a perk that Bivins also had gotten but that Franklin demanded an investigation of in her case—and that she allegedly had told Stanford, “We’re only going after Ramona.”
Eleven months earlier, Bivins and Franklin had had a conflict over Franklin allegedly booking more-expensive county travel on a personal credit card, rather than going through the employee tasked with making commissioners’ reservations, then seeking reimbursement for the difference. Bivins alleges Anderson, Franklin, and Hambrick terminated her after she and her husband expressed support for District 4 Commissioner DeMont Davis’ reelection over Hill-Bickers machine candidate Janice Scott.
Bivins was one of several people allegedly targeted by Hill and Bickers for removal from office. That list, circulated by someone using the name “John David,” included several department heads and key officers that Franklin bullied publicly:
- Bivins (terminated June 7)
- Police Chief Kevin Roberts
- Community Development Director Patrick Ejike
- Parks and Recreation Director Troy Hodges
- Chief Strategy Officer Chalonda Smith (terminated November 29)
- Human Resources Director Pamela Ambles
Through an Open Records Request, The Clayton Crescent has obtained copies of a $259 cashier’s check dated October 25, 2022 from Delta Community Credit Union, which Franklin used to repay the county for travel expenses to the ACCG Legislative Leadership Conference on Jekyll Island:
Franklin and Hill both filed campaign contribution disclosure reports indicating that Hill had paid Franklin $1,000 around March 9 or 10, and that showed Hill’s campaign address as tCCSO headquarters at the Harold R. Banke Justice Center and Franklin’s as a nonexistent address in Atlanta, 1111 Smith Street. Hill also paid Pirouette Companies, listed at the same fake address, $20,000 on May 10, and had listed at least three payments to Tomo Japanese, a Buckhead sushi restaurant, at the Smith Street address.
Last week, a source told The Clayton Crescent that Franklin had introduced Allen at a Flint River Community Center holiday party as “the next sheriff of Clayton County.”
Who’s running for sheriff?
Here are the public-facing online Declarations of Intent as of Sunday, December 18, of candidates who are planning to run for Clayton County Sheriff:
- Levon Allen
- Carl Anthony Cogdell (2024)
- Clarence Cox
- Terry Evans
- Dwayne Fabian
- Thomas Storey (2024)
- Charlene Renee Watson-Fraser
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