Criss, Bohrer named on POs

Clayton County Acting Sheriff Levon Allen spent $18,687 in county funds in November to trick out two vehicles with custom lights and firearms storage accessories. And that doesn’t include the custom graphics.

On March 10, The Clayton Crescent filed an Open Records Request, seeking documentation of how much Allen had spent to remove former sheriff Victor Hill’s name from county patrol vehicles and replace them with his own:

The Clayton Crescent’s Open Records Request filed with Clayton County on March 10, 2023.

On March 15, we received copies of two invoices and two checks, drawn on the Clayton County Board of Commissioners account, totaling $18,687 for the customizations. We’ve asked the county why it redacted the purchase order, voucher, and check numbers:

The invoices were from HG2 Emergency Lighting, an Orlando-based company with a location in Jonesboro. HG2 outfits emergency vehicles with emergency and custom lighting, as well as graphics, wraps, and other markings.

Invoice, #4146 was dated November 1, 2022 for work on a 2022 Jeep Trailhawk. HG2 charged the county $8,899 for the job, which included the following:

  • $1,399: Blue/blue front visor custom build with white flood
  • $999: Blue/blue rear visor
  • $679: Blue/blue 72″ side runner kit
  • $499: Blue/blue grill lights 6 head
  • $575: Flash factory headlights
  • $599: Flash factory taillight
  • $750: Handheld siren and 100 watt speaker
  • $1,899: Rear vault
  • $1,500: Labor/installation

Clayton County paid HG2’s Fort Lauderdale office the $8,899 on January 24.

Allen also got a second invoice bearing what would have been the previous number in the sequence, #4145, from HG2 on November 15, 2022 for customizations on a 2022 Dodge Charger Scat. That job came to $9,698 and included:

  • $1,399: Blue/blue front visor custom build with white flood
  • $875: Blue/blue rear visor
  • $750: Blue/blue 72″ side runner kit
  • $750: Blue/blue grill lights
  • $550: Blue/blue lights in fog area
  • $575: Flash factory headlights
  • $599: Flash factory taillight
  • $350: Blue/blue side door lights
  • $550: Blue/blue rear vent lighting
  • $750: Handheld siren and 100 watt speaker
  • $950: Custom Blac Rac gun mount
  • $250: Lockbox in rear of vehicle
  • $1,350: Labor/installation

The county cut a check for $9,698 to HG2’s Fort Lauderdale office, also on January 24.

On Thursday, Clayton County sent The Clayton Crescent unredacted copies of the documents, which revealed the words “Criss” and “Bohrer” in the purchase order block.

“Criss,” who is Assistant Chief Deputy Brandon Criss, was on the invoice for the Jeep Trailhawk. “Boehrer,” who is retired Acting Sheriff Roland Boehrer, was on the invoice for the Dodge Charger Scat.

The response from the Clayton County Finance Department comes one day after the University of Georgia First Amendment Law Clinic sent a letter to the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office records custodian, Sgt. Kali Huitt, warning CCSO to comply with the Georgia Open Records Act by producing records about the custom decals and vehicle wraps that we had requested separately on February 8.

CCSO has until Friday, March 17 to produce those records, which have been a bone of contention during the sheriff’s race. The public has not had access to those records throughout early voting. Election Day is Tuesday, March 21. Documentation of how much it cost to remove Hill’s name from county vehicles and replace them with Allen’s name is relevant to voters who might decide who to vote for based on those public records.

While CCSO complied with part of the February 8 request, it did not provide responsive records for the car decals and wraps. Huitt denied that CCSO had received a purchase order from its vendor for those items. (A purchase order is sent by the buyer; an invoice is sent by the seller.) Our request was placed approximately 90 days after Allen’s first lighting purchase from HG2. CCSO swapped out Hill’s name for Allen’s soon after Allen was quietly appointed interim sheriff on December 22, 2022.

On Wednesday, March 15, Huitt replied:

“Please be advised on my previous correspondence I stated that there was no responsive documents, correction- I have provided to your the invoices that we have in our possession. If we are not in possession of an invoice, that has not been provided, hence I cannot provide a document that is not in our possession, nor are we the holder of the document, once said invoices are received your request will be updated.”

The Clayton Crescent sent this response:

“CCSO might not have received (an) invoice(s), but surely it placed (a) purchase order(s) or has (a) receipt(s) by which it would have received the lettering decals that clearly have been in the possession of CCSO (visible on its fleet of patrol vehicles) for well over 30 days. Please produce those documents by Friday, March 17, 2023, as requested by our attorneys, who I am cc’ing on this.”

Fox 5 Atlanta’s Dale Russell reported on March 8 that he also had filed an Open Records Request with CCSO for receipts that would show what the county paid to put Allen’s name and photo on government-owned vehicles.

In August, The Clayton Cresecnt reported that District 3 Commissioner Felicia Franklin had given HG2 what was essentially free advertising in her July 21, 2022 newsletter to constituents. Franklin, who has run point for former sheriff Victor Hill as part of the 3-2 majority on the Board of Commissioners, had posed next to a car marked with Hill’s name and sent the photo out as part of her newsletter:

District 3 Commissioner Felicia Franklin poses at HG2 Emergency Lighting, next to a Clayton County Sheriff’s Office vehicle adorned with custom decals bearing former sheriff Victor Hill’s name. (Photo: Felicia Franklin)

HG2 Emergency Lighting GA Corp was incorporated on March 19, 2021 by Mansour Baker, with Ali Bhojani listed as the manager. Both Baker and Bhojani listed HG2’s Fort Lauderdale address on the Georgia incorporation paperwork; as registered agent, Baker listed the company’s Jonesboro address. In 2022 and 2023, Baker (in Jonesboro) was listed as CEO, Halah Abed (in Fort Lauderdale) was listed as CFO, and Bhojani (in Jonesboro) was listed as secretary.

Prior to Franklin’s newsletter, Hill also promoted HG2 after a county-owned vehicle he was driving was struck by a drunken driver. In an April 3, 2020 Facebook post, Hill bemoaned the loss of the car, which he described as a secret patrol car, that also had been pimped out by HG2:

“It must be noted that the Sheriff’s patrol car involved in this accident was not the well known ‘Black Phantom,’ but was a secondary patrol vehicle (‘The Dark Shadow’) that was kept from receiving any publicity. HG2 who design [sic] all of ‘THE CRIME FIGHTER’S’ patrol vehicles actually configured the lights in the grill of the Chrysler 300 with [the] initial of the Sheriff’s first name as an added feature.”

Terry Evans

During a series of candidate forums, the other four candidates for sheriff have repeatedly excoriated Allen for spending taxpayer funds to replace Hill’s name with his own prior to the election:

Terry Evans: “If I wanted to put my name on the car, I’d put it on my own. Those cars belong to you. I’m not writing on your stuff. I have to make sure everything’s accounted for, and show respect with what you provide for me and the staff to do what you want done….It’s horrible that we’re wasting funds on such madness.”

Dwayne Fabian

Dwayne Fabian: “I’ve worked for many governors, many colonels, for Commissioner, for the State Patrol. And I haven’t seen a governor’s name on a patrol car, haven’t seen a colonel’s name on a patrol car, most definitely haven’t seen my name on a patrol car…. I’m opposed to putting names on cars for campaign purposes. Money that was used to put on those cars, the name on the cars and the photos, those are taxpayer dollars. I live in this county. Lived in this county nearly 20 years now. And when I see things like this happening, that’s my tax dollars going up. And I don’t want to waste my tax dollars, or someone else’s, going for political [campaigns].”

Chris Storey

Chris Storey: “I feel that’s a waste of taxpayers’ money. We’ve already seen that our property values have been decreased, not to even go along with just the money’s being wasted from putting [Allen’s] name on the car. But we have over half a billion dollars in lawsuits pending against a former convicted sheriff. So why would we waste more money to advertise for a person who is not duly elected? He is an interim sheriff. He has no right to put it on but he’s using his power as the interim sheriff. And he has that liberty. It’s not illegal. But what it is, it’s immoral. Or he lacks integrity….Oh, also on top of that, not only is he using cars with your money, he’s also buying billboards. I know y’all have seen them all over the place right now. So he said that he’s advertising Nixle.”

Clarence Cox

Clarence Cox: “I, too, am upset about that. I’m not only not going to put my long Clarence P. Cox III on there, I’m gonna work with the commission in hopes that we can come up with an ordinance that, even when I’m no longer sheriff, that no sheriff can come behind me and put that on, make it illegal for that to happen, because I think that’s more important. Sheriffs are constitutional officers and they get to do a lot of things that don’t have to pass muster with the commissioners, but I think we could come up with an ordinance that prevents that in the future, after I’m no longer your sheriff. I think that’s what we need to do. I won’t be putting names on cars. I got big buses I ride around here, y’all probably have seen it, with my name and my picture on it. I paid for that. That’s my bus. I own that. I won’t be doing that with taxpayer dollars.”

You can read the candidates’ answers to The Clayton Crescent’s Candidate Survey to learn more about them before Election Day on March 21.

Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....

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