Hearing held in Victor Hill case - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Hearing held in Victor Hill case

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CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. -

Victor Hill, the Democratic nominee for Clayton County Sheriff, was excused from appearing at a motions hearing on Monday.  The hearings were the first since Hill won the primary runoff for the seat that he lost to current sheriff Kem Kimbrough back in 2008.

Superior Court Judge Albert Collier granted a motion to waive Hill's appearance.

"He's spending some time with his family. He's campaigning, and he did so with the blessing of the judge," said Steven Frey, Hill's defense attorney.

A 37-count indictment alleges Victor Hill abused his power while he ran the Clayton County Sheriff's Department during his first term in office in 2004, and during his failed re-election bid in 2008.  The charges include racketeering and theft by taking. Prosecutors maintain that Hill used the office for his own personal gain, stole campaign funds and misused department vehicles

Hill has maintained his innocence, insisting that his political rival, current Clayton County Sheriff Kem Kimbrough, is behind the charges.

The special prosecutor and Hill's defense team argued several motions before the judge in advance of the trial, which is scheduled to begin on November 26.  

"We will continue to prepare for trial. That's ultimately what we're looking forward to," said Frey.

Hill's legal troubles could prevent him from taking office. If Hill still faces felony charges when he takes office in January, Governor Nathan Deal could take action.

If a county official is under indictment in Georgia, the governor must form a panel to investigate and issue a recommendation about whether the official should be suspended from office. That panel would be made up of the state attorney general and two county sheriffs appointed by the governor.

The governor can't take action if the panel recommends no suspension. If the panel recommends suspension, the governor can decide whether or not to remove Hill from office.

(Correction:  Victor Hill is not the Clayton County Sheriff-elect.  He is the Democratic nominee for Clayton County Sheriff.)

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