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Sheriff told to reinstate deputy in Nuwaubian case

Athens Banner-Herald, Georgia/March 28, 2007
By Joe Johnson

 

The Clarke County sheriff must reinstate a deputy he fired last year for allegedly undermining jail security through his involvement in a black supremacist cult.

While Bobby Dixon should be disciplined for two of the five policy violations sheriff's officials cited when they fired him in November, Dixon did not deserve to lose his job, personnel hearing officer Denny Galis ruled.

Galis did not recommend what discipline the sheriff should impose.

Dixon and three other deputies were fired after an internal investigation determined they violated jail policies by distributing literature from the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, recruiting inmates into the cult and urging inmates to rebel against white deputies. A fifth deputy with Nuwaubian ties was allowed to resign in lieu of termination.

Dixon should be disciplined for not returning a phone call while he was on administrative leave and for having "general conversations" with other deputies during a sheriff's internal investigation into Nuwaubian activities at the Clarke County Jail, Galis said.

An assistant county attorney representing the Clarke County Sheriff's Office immediately notified Galis by fax that the county would appeal the ruling, but Galis said in an interview that his ruling is binding.

"Whatever they file, I'm going to respond to it, but as far as I know, that's it," Galis said of his decision.

Galis, who has served as the county's personnel hearing officer for several years, said the local government has never appealed his decision to reinstate an employee.

Nevertheless, Sheriff Ira Edwards' office released a statement Tuesday saying officials hope Galis will reconsider.

"Parties commonly ask for reconsideration when they contend that a decision, for instance, has overlooked important circumstances or contains errors that require a further review of the record," the statement said.

The sheriff's office alleged that Dixon violated a code titled "Be willing to act," because he failed to remove a sign from an inmate's cell that had to do with the inmate's Nuwaubian beliefs.

But Galis said a superior officer could have taken action against Dixon at that time, but did not.

"Deputy Dixon apparently overlooked this sign in his rounds and another deputy removed it," Galis wrote in his decision. When a supervisor confronted Dixon about not removing the sign, Galis said, "This was an opportunity for some form of minor discipline, but none was administered."

 

The sheriff's office also asserted that Dixon "caused a disruption in his ability to supervise and control inmates" when he pulled an inmate from his cell to berate him for mocking Dixon's Nuwaubian beliefs.

During an internal investigation after the inmate filed a grievance, a deputy who witnessed the exchange said Dixon "followed protocol" because the inmate was being disruptive. The deputy's statement was used to dismiss the grievance, yet wasn't mentioned in the written reasons the sheriff's office gave for firing Dixon, Galis said.

"Why that statement was omitted was never explained and remains a mystery to me," Galis wrote. "Omitting an apparently key piece of evidence from the disciplinary report, particularly one that tends to exonerate the employee, does not substantially comply with sound management principles and is not consistent with policies and procedures of Athens-Clarke County."

Galis previously upheld the firings of former deputies William York and Anthony Montgomery, and an appeals hearing for former deputy Rena Jennings has not been scheduled.

Galis upheld York's termination, finding that he violated policy when he tried to manipulate a polygraph test and couldn't be contacted while on paid administrative leave.

When upholding Montgomery's termination, the hearings officer said the former deputy flagrantly disregarded jail policy by writing to the Nuwaubians' imprisoned leader, Dwight "Malachi" York, who is serving a 135-year federal prison sentence for convictions on child molestation, racketeering, money laundering and other charges.

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

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