A former chairman of the Crawford County Commission is suing county officials for $1 million, claiming they incorrectly prosecuted and jailed him on allegations that he lied about committing a felony crime.
Harold “Doug” Spillers is suing the county, the sheriff and two prosecutors in a federal lawsuit filed last week.
Spillers ultimately was cleared of the lying charges two years ago by the Georgia Court of Appeals. But before that happened, he had been accused by the governor, a grand jury and his own board of commissioners of lying.
In his lawsuit, Spillers claims he was running for office to clean up the county, not to be illegally arrested by people trumping up charges. Spillers was elected in 2000 and again in 2004.
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“Defendant Crawford County is liable for allowing misconduct and corruption to take place within its governing body as general custom and practice, and allowing retaliation in the form of criminal charges to be levied against someone attempting to expose the corruption with the governing body,” Spillers’ attorney, Bryan R. Howard of Carrollton, wrote in the lawsuit.
The criminal charges involved whether Spillers lied about a 1986 “no contest” plea in an aggravated assault case that charged him with shooting at a woman.
The Court of Appeals ruled that Spillers did not claim he hadn’t been convicted of a felony, but rather that he hadn’t been convicted of a felony that would keep him from taking office.
Spillers is suing the county itself; Sheriff Kerry Dunaway; Howard Simms, who was then district attorney for the Macon Judicial Circuit which includes Crawford County but is now a Superior Court judge; and an assistant district attorney, Myra Hutchinson.
Two attorneys for Crawford County did not return phone calls seeking comment.
No formal response has been filed in the U.S. District Court in Macon.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.