Three suspended amid jail probe
Athens Banner-Herald/July 3, 2006
By Joe Johnson
At least two sheriff's deputies belonging to a controversial
religious cult and a third jail employee have been suspended from
their jobs as a grand jury continues to investigate United
Nuwaubian Nation of Moors activities at the Clarke County Jail,
several deputies said.
One of the suspended deputies, Cpl. Anthony Montgomery,
appeared before the grand jury on Thursday, a week after County
Attorney Bill Berryman unsuccessfully sought to quash subpoenas
issued to Montgomery and fellow deputy William York. Although York
also testified Thursday, several co-workers said York wasn't
Interim Clarke County Chief Deputy Sheriff Jack Mitchell
refused to answer e-mailed questions about the suspensions,
including who was suspended and when, and how long the suspensions
Mitchell offered the same answer to all six e-mailed questions
concerning suspended deputies: "This is an ongoing matter, and we
cannot respond to these questions at this time."
In addition to deputies Montgomery and Leon Adams, also a
Nuwaubian, a third employee, Rena Jennings, a civilian who works
in the jail's prisoner classification unit, also was suspended,
several co-workers said.
Nuwaubians follow cult leader Dwight "Malachi" York, 60, who
was convicted in U.S. District Court in Macon two years ago on
child molestation, racketeering, tax evasion and other charges and
is serving a 135-year sentence at a federal maximum security
prison in Colorado. York claims, among other things, to be from
another galaxy, and he preaches a form of black supremacy.
Deputies at the county jail have said they are concerned about
which side Nuwaubian deputies would take if a fight broke out
along racial lines at the jail.
Court workers on Monday said they saw both Montgomery and York
enter the grand jury room Thursday, and that Sheriff Ira Edwards
followed later, the second time the sheriff has appeared before
the investigative panel in less than a month.
It's not clear whether a third suspended jail employee, Adams,
testified before the grand jury. He does have Nuwaubian ties,
however, and was part of a group of Macon police officers and
firefighters that quit in 2004 after the city refused to open its
own investigation into whether York was the victim of a
Edwards had hired six Nuwaubian deputies, four of whom were
former Macon police officers, according to former Chief Jailer
Brett Hart, who was fired this spring.
Grand juries not only indict criminals but often consider civil
matters, such as conditions at the county jail. The current grand
jury apparently is looking into events that led Edwards to fire
Hart in April, around the same time Hart was investigating whether
Nuwaubian deputies were recruiting prisoners into their sect and
if a deputy violated jail policy by corresponding with the
imprisoned sect leader.
Edwards said he looked into allegations of wrongdoing by
Montgomery and York but found no evidence of policy violations.
Mitchell said one of the deputies was suspended before after
Loganville police cited him in August 2004 for leaving the scene
of an wreck that caused damage on private property.
"Corporal Montgomery was suspended for 10 days without pay
following an investigation of this incident." Mitchell said.
In the wake of that crash, which police said happened when
Montgomery fell asleep at the wheel of his car and struck a
Chick-fil-A sign, the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training
Council placed the deputy on probation for two years.
Montgomery was not intoxicated, although a test at the scene
showed his breath was "slightly positive" for alcohol consumption,
according to an officer standards council report of the crash.
There were four passengers in Montgomery's car at the time,
according to the report, which also said Montgomery was the
designated driver from Atlanta to Monroe.