NAACP says DA's actions are racially motivated - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

NAACP says DA's actions are racially motivated

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October 29, 2007

Dooly County -- An investigation into several councilmen in a small South Georgia city leads to accusations of racial intimidation.

Investigators are trying to figure out whether four Unadilla City Councilmen conspired to use city money to help the former police chief pay his legal bills.

The former chief is now in jail.

But the NAACP says investigators are targeting councilmen Bobby West, Tony Lester, Jeffrey Minor, and Dexter Whitaker because they're black.

Edward O. Dubose, President of the Georgia State Conference NAACP announced to the assembled crowd, "We're here to say to this district attorney and this community, How dare you try and change the balance of power in this county in the court room rather than at the ballot box."

On the steps of the Dooly County Courthouse, state and local chapters of the NAACP are standing behind four black Unadilla City Councilmen they feel are the target of a racially motivated investigation.

In a statement directed toward Cordele Judicial Circuit District Attorney Denise Fachini, Dubose exclaimed, "To date you have threatened four city council members and said to them, if they don't step down, you will indict and prosecute them."

Accusations of political wrong doing came forward 3 months ago when District Attorney Denise Fachini prosecuted former Unadilla Police Chief Leonard Smith. Smith, who is now serving a 5 year prison sentence, was convicted in August on 3 felony counts of false statements in a case where he was accused of submitting time cards and receiving payment while he was not on duty.

The controversy surrounding the councilmen revolves around their vote to give former police chief Leonard Smith a pay advance. Smith testified under oath that he conspired with three council members to submit a personal loan with city funds.

Whether or not those funds were used to pay for Smith's legal costs is something that Fachini is looking into. In the meantime, the council members say they haven't done anything illegal.

"Everything I did, I did according to the city attorney. I haven't done anything wrong," said Unadilla City Councilman Jeffrey Minor.

Dexter Whitaker, who has held a council seat for two years said, "Politics in the city of Unadilla, it's a dirty game. And in the city of Unadilla, we actually have documents that are walking out of city hall."

While the GBI is currently investigating whether the councilmen acted illegally, the NAACP says Fachini has called for their resignations - a move the association calls illegal actions against and intimidation of black officials in Unadilla.

"We are standing up, and speaking out against this injustice," said Rev. Ezekiel Holley, 3rd Vice President Georgia State Conference NAACP.

WALB contacted District Attorney Denise Fachini's office Monday, but she would not comment on the NAACP news conference or the investigation.

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=NAACPpresser/CF