Zon: ‘No re­grets’ af­ter Clay­ton sher­iff ac­quit­ted

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - AM­BER PITTMAN apittman@cov­news.com

Clay­ton County Sher­iff Vic­tor Hill was cleared of the 25 felony charges against him Thurs­day, and New­ton County Dis­trict At­tor­ney Layla Zon, who was the spe­cial prose­cu­tor in the case, said she re­spects the jury’s ver­dict.

Hill was charged with rack­e­teer­ing, theft by tak­ing, mak­ing false state­ments and vi­o­lat­ing his oath of of­fice. In a 51page in­dict­ment, he was ac­cused of us­ing “county cars for get­aways and county credit cards for shop­ping sprees and tap­ping county em­ploy­ees for his own cam­paign and char­ity events. He also took money for him­self from his re-elec­tion cam­paign ac­count.”

Ad­di­tion­ally, in­dict­ments said that Hill “fre­quently drove a county SUV or Dodge Charger on per­sonal trips to Florida, South Carolina and Mis­sis­sippi. He used a county gas card to fuel those drives.” The in­dict­ment fur­ther al­leges that “he also used county funds to pay for a get­away in the North Ge­or­gia moun­tains. ... Hill al­legedly used county credit cards on shop­ping sprees while on those trips.”

The in­dict­ment said that Hill used roughly $108,000 in county funds for him­self or his cam­paign and took about $80,000 from his re-elec­tion ac­count. The 48-year-old faced up to 455 years in prison if con­victed.

Zon was ap­pointed spe­cial prose­cu­tor in the case in Jan­uary 2012 by Clay­ton County Dis­trict At­tor­ney Tracy Gra­ham Law­son. In Oc­to­ber of 2012, Zon ap­pealed the court’s de­ci­sion to drop five charges against Hill, de­lay­ing Hill’s trail for sev­eral months.

Hill was found not guilty on all charges Thurs­day.

“I be­lieve that Chief As­sis­tant DA Me­lanie Bell and I did the best job that we could do as out­side, in­de­pen­dent, pros­e­cu­tors on this case and so I have no re­grets,” Zon said in an email Fri­day.

“I am ap­pre­cia­tive of Tracy Gra­ham Law­son, the Clay­ton County Dis­trict At­tor­ney, and her won­der­ful staff. This was go­ing to be a tough case, we knew that go­ing in, but what is great about this job as a prose­cu­tor is you al­ways have an op­por­tu­nity to do the right thing.

“This case was im­por­tant to Clay­ton County and needed to be re­solved in one way or an­other. Our job was to present the ev­i­dence. Af­ter that, it is no longer in our hands; the jury de­cides the case and I re­spect the jury’s ver­dict.”

Zon

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