ATLANTA — Clayton County’s now-former Sheriff Victor Hill, convicted of breaking the law while in office and vowing to appeal, now wants his full pension benefits. And he wants the benefits paid to him even as he faces years in federal prison.
Hill is awaiting sentencing following his conviction last month of using excessive force against jail inmates. No sentencing date has been announced, but in the meantime, Hill has submitted his retirement papers to the county. And the county believes the law allows Hill to cash in, despite his conviction for crimes in office.
Hill's retirement benefits would be based on about 26 years as a county employee - believing that his convictions for committing crimes as sheriff do not disqualify him from collecting the benefits.
Hill had been earning about $155,000 a year as sheriff. How much would his retirement benefits be?
The county pension director said on Friday that her office is calculating Hill’s benefits after county attorneys advised her office that Hill is eligible under state law to receive the benefits.
In 2015, convicted former Savannah Police Chief Willie Lovett started receiving about $130,000 a year in retirement benefits, even as he was beginning to serve a seven-year sentence in federal prison. Attorneys at the time concluded that Lovett could receive the pension under state law.
11Alive is working to find out if the Georgia attorney general believes Hill is eligible to receive his full retirement benefits, despite his convictions, as county attorneys believe.
Hill may also be eligible to receive additional retirement benefits, about $28,000 a year, from the Sheriffs’ Retirement Fund of Georgia, based on Hill’s time as sheriff– he served a total of about 14 years, following his years as a county police officer.
But the fund’s commissioners are investigating whether state law prohibits Hill from receiving that pension.
As for Victor Hill’s future in law enforcement, the state agency that certifies law officers in Georgia is expected to revoke Hill’s certification at its next meeting on Dec. 1
“The law is pretty clear in this particular situation,” said Mike Ayers, the Executive Director of Georgia POST, “because these are felony convictions. And under Georgia law, you cannot be a police officer with a felony conviction. So in all likelihood, that’s going to lead to the revocation of his certification to be a police officer.”