Sheriff on trial for 'contract hit' on his successor
Wednesday 19 June 2002
Corruption is not unusual in the sheriff's department in DeKalb County, Georgia, just outside Atlanta. Four of the past five sheriffs have been investigated, indicted or convicted of misusing their office for financial gain.
But the trial of Sidney Dorsey, sheriff from 1996 to 2000, is something else. He is accused of ordering the murder of his successor, a man who successfully challenged his bid for re-election by vowing to clean up the department once and for all.
Derwin Brown was shot dead outside his home three days before he was due to be sworn in as the new sheriff in December 2000.
Even before he had taken office, he had painted a picture of Mr Dorsey as a corrupt small-town potentate – using sheriff's deputies for a private security business he ran on the side, demanding money and sexual favours from a would-be bail bondswoman looking to him for a licence, using county funds and legal resources to get his son out of jail and overseeing divorce and bankruptcy proceedings on behalf of his family.
Prosecutors looking into Brown's murder concluded it was a professional hit and uncovered evidence that other county officials – including the chief prosecutor – were next in the firing line.
No wonder Mr Dorsey's trial, which began on Monday in a rural county 150 miles south of Atlanta, has been the talk of Georgia for months. Every stage in the case has been soaked through with the sleaze and sweat the movies have taught us to associate with southern lawmen. One sheriff's deputy – now the prosecution's star witness – was involved in a shoot-out at his home three months after the Brown murder, and a body and a bullet-riddled car were subsequently found near by.
That deputy, Patrick Cuffy, was controversially offered immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony. Soon, he and another witness were singing – about how they and a group of other men, under Mr Dorsey's direction, had tracked Brown for months, waiting for the right moment to attack.
The defence has maintained from the start that Mr Cuffy is an unreliable witness and might even be the culprit himself. At an earlier trial that ended in March, two members of the alleged hit squad were acquitted of Brown's murder – largely because the jury found Mr Cuffy and his fellow witness, Paul Skyers, to be sleazy and untrustworthy.
The DeKalb County district attorney, Tom Morgan, recognises the chances of convicting Mr Dorsey of murder on the same evidence are slim. Prosecutors are hoping they can at least make some of the subsidiary charges of corruption stick.
And corruption is very much the flavour of the case. The trial has been moved out of DeKalb County, because of suspicions about the relationship between the sheriff's department and the local judges as well as the difficulty of finding an impartial jury for the high-profile trial.
- 1 Apple has installed security backdoors on 600m iPhones and iPads, claims security researcher
- 2 Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'
- 4 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'
Israel-Gaza conflict: Deadly flechette shells 'used by Israeli military in Gaza Strip’
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Blogger captures footage ‘showing BUK missile launcher that shot down jet’ now back in Russia
Peaches Geldof inquest: Tragic final moments of socialite's life reveal she lied to husband about failed heroin tests
Israel-Gaza conflict: The myth of Hamas’s human shields
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £40000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...
£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Cost Reporting Manager - MI Packs -...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - We are makin...