Former Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill, who has been personally campaigning for his handpicked successor Levon Allen, has gotten his sentencing date moved back from February 28 to the week before Clayton County’s special called election to fill his former seat.
Hill’s attorneys asked the court for a two-week extension because they said they got the initial presentence report on January 27, which was three days past the 35-day deadline. His attorneys have said Hill plans to appeal his sentence.
“As the Court is aware, this is a sentencing following a multi-week jury trial for which there was a split-verdict as well as multiple counts of conviction. Therefore, the guideline calculations and other issues to be litigated at the time of sentencing in this matter are complex. Due to the complexity as well as the late disclosure, Mr. Hill requests that his sentencing date be continued,” defense attorney Marissa Goldberg wrote on February 17.
According to a November 15, 2022 court notice, “A sentencing memorandum and any other information a party wants the Court to consider in connection with sentencing of the defendant shall be submitted to the Court and served on opposing counsel: SEVEN (7) days before the date set for sentencing by the Government; and THREE (3) days before the date set for sentencing by the Defendant. A party who intends to present evidence at sentencing shall, THREE (3) BUSINESS DAYS before sentencing, advise the Court and opposing counsel of the identity of any witness(es) and the estimated length of the testimony of each witness expected to be called. It is not necessary that such notice be provided for general character witnesses. Failure to comply with the Courts deadlines herein may prevent the Court from considering an untimely filed brief.”
U.S. District Court Judge Eleanor Ross ordered that Hill’s sentencing on violating the civil rights of six pretrial detainees while under color of law be moved to 9:30 a.m. on March 14. The hearing will take place in Room 1708 of the Richard B. Russell Federal Building in downtown Atlanta.
In October 2022, a jury convicted Hill on six of seven counts related to his illegal use of jailhouse restraint chairs as punishment. One case involved a 17-year-old boy. Another involved landscaper Glenn Howell, who had gotten into a dispute with a deputy over work he had been hired to do. Hill Facetimed Howell and sent him text messages, telling him to turn himself in. Eventually Hill sent deputies into Butts County without notifying the local sheriff. Howell turned himself in and Hill ordered him strapped into a chair.
None of the six pretrial detainees had done anything to warrant being placed in the chair, federal prosecutors said, arguing that Hill also had violated his own written policies in the process. During the trial, prosecutors introduced video of Allen strapping Howell and Joseph Arnold into the chair at Hill’s direction, as well as text messages from Allen asking Hill what to do with the 17-year-old. Hill sent a one-word directive: “Chair.”
On the stand, Hill testified that causing the detainees pain was “not the intent.”
Arnold’s was the one charge on which the jury found Hill not guilty. He was arrested after beating up a senior citizen and knocking her mother out of a mobility device in a Forest Park grocery line. Hill had offered a reward for his capture. After Forest Park Police tracked down Arnold, Hill said he would use the money to treat deputies to dinner.
Hill, who is Allen’s godfather, has been delivering campaign yard signs for Allen and has set his social media manager, Carl Johnson, to touting Allen as Hill’s preferred candidate. Hill promoted Allen despite reprimands for his conduct at the Dekalb County Sheriff’s Office and, just before he was hired at CCSO, pending domestic violence charges for which two Georgia POST officials had recommended he lose his certification. Allen pleaded to a lesser charge and was able to keep his POST certification.
Hill’s associate and former CCSO Chief of Staff Mitzi Bickers is serving 14 years at FCI Marianna, FL for her unrelated conviction in the Atlanta City Hall contract-fixing scandal. Bickers had run Hill’s campaign through a company in her partner’s name; Hill gave her a job at the Clayton County Jail when she was forced to resign from the City of Atlanta, then quickly advanced her through the ranks. Sources had alleged to The Clayton Crescent that Bickers was effectively running the sheriff’s office behind the scenes at Hill’s direction after Gov. Brian Kemp had suspended him. Although Bickers was chief of staff, she was not POST-certified.
Allen also has spent an unspecified amount on putting his name on CCSO vehicles—which Hill also had done. The Clayton Crescent filed an Open Records Request seeking purchase orders, invoices, and other documentation showing how much Allen’s office has paid to customize CCSO cars with his name and, in some cases, face. CCSO says it has a backlog of Open Records Requests and that it would take three to four weeks to produce responsive records.
During the campaign, Allen’s face also has appeared on several recruiting billboards in high-priced locations around the county’s main arteries. Those recruiting billboards also promote Nixle, a favorite campaign tool of Hill’s that Allen is now using, as well. Nixle is a service for law enforcement officials to alert residents to emergencies. Hill used it mainly to tout arrests and his crimefighting prowess.
Hill gave Carl Johnson, who had been a corrections officer in the jail, the title “Social Media Manager.” Johnson is now campaigning for Allen, including through posts on Hill’s Facebook page. Georgia code prohibits state and county employees from campaigning for political candidates on the clock.