Ex-deputies get more time to appeal firings

Athens Banner-Herald/January 4, 2007
By Joe Johnson


Four former Clarke County deputies accused of undermining jail security through their ties to a black supremacist cult were supposed to argue for their jobs this week, but a hearings officer postponed the appeals to give the ex-deputies more time to prepare.

The deputies were fired in November after a Clarke County Sheriff's Office internal investigation found they encouraged black inmates to rebel against white deputies and recruited inmates into the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors sect.

The former deputies still are gathering documents and witnesses for their hearings, according to Denny Galis, a private attorney who acts as the county's personnel hearing officer. "They will be allowed to present evidence and call on witnesses," Galis said.

The former deputies also may be represented by attorneys at the hearings, Galis said, but as of this week he only knew of one who has legal representation, Rena Jennings.

Jennings' attorney, John M. Clark of Elberton, would not discuss the pending appeal.

Only one of the fired deputies had a new hearing date as of Wednesday, according to Athens-Clarke Human Resources Director Harry Owens. While William York is scheduled to make his case on Jan. 29, Jennings, Anthony Montgomery and Bobby Dixon don't have new hearing dates.

The sheriff's office allowed a fifth Nuwaubian deputy, Leon Adams, to resign in lieu of termination. But by resigning, Adams forfeited his right to appeal, Owens said.

Nuwaubian deputies first came under scrutiny by sheriff's officials in March, when the officials were notified by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons that it had intercepted a letter from Montgomery to the Nuwaubians' spiritual leader, Dwight "Malachi" York, a convicted felon. York is serving a 135-year sentence in a maximum security federal prison for child molestation, racketeering, money laundering and other crimes.


The former deputies' appeals hearings will mark the first time in two years that a fired county employee formally has sought reinstatement, Owens said.

In 2005, two former Athens-Clarke police officers failed to convince Athens-Clarke Manager Alan Reddish to give them back their jobs after they were fired for providing alcohol to an underage woman, who also had sex with one of the officers and the officer's wife.

Normally when a county employee is fired, he first appeals to the manager, and then can take the appeal one step further to the personnel hearing officer. But when the employee works for an elected official, like the sheriff, the appeal goes directly to the hearing officer.

All five former deputies were on paid suspension for three months before they were fired.

After interviewing deputies and inmates, and allowing the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to administer lie-detector tests, sheriff's investigators concluded that Nuwaubian deputies were a serious disruptive influence at the jail. "By the intentional introduction of unauthorized Nuwaubian literature and beliefs into the jail environment, the daily safety and security of the jail has been breached," according to a report on the investigation.















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