DeKalb Sheriff Jeff Mann pleads guilty but keeps job

Now that DeKalb County Sheriff Jeff Mann has pleaded guilty to charges arising from a late-night rendezvous with the law, he’s free to go back to his job of keeping other criminals locked up.

Mann, accused of exposing himself to a stranger who turned out to be a cop and then fleeing, was initially booked with charges of indecency and obstruction May 6. Under a deal reached with prosecutors Thursday, the indecency charge was dropped. Mann instead pleaded guilty to prohibited conduct that night in Piedmont Park, as well as the original obstruction count.

He was ordered to pay $2,000 in fines and perform 80 hours of community service, which he already completed this month by volunteering for Hosea Feed the Hungry. He was also banished from all city of Atlanta parks for six months.

Mann’s guilty plea won’t have an immediate effect on his job as the county’s top law enforcement officer. Since he was re-elected to a four-year term in November, the sheriff will retain his position unless his license is revoked or voters petition to recall him from office.

Until Thursday, Mann had fought the case against him at every step. He challenged the governor’s authority to suspend him for 40 days, argued that a post-suspension trial amounted to double jeopardy and filed a motion asking a court to dismiss the charges.

That changed with one word to Atlanta Municipal Court Judge Crystal Gaines: “guilty.”

Mann didn’t elaborate or return a message seeking comment.

His political opponents, watching Mann from the courtroom benches, said he should resign or be removed from office.

“He does not have the respect from the men and and women who serve the office,” said Harold Dennis, a business owner and Republican who ran against Mann last year. “Now he has to see if he can keep his certification.”

Geraldine Champion, a retired homicide detective who ran against Mann in the Democratic primary, said he should ask DeKalb taxpayers for forgiveness.

“Anybody that did a crime that embarrassing, there’s no way in the world he can be over a jail with prisoners in there who did the same kind of things,” she said.

Mann’s trial had been scheduled to begin Thursday, but it was delayed more than two hours while prosecutors and his attorney negotiated a plea deal behind closed doors. The trial was called off when both sides agreed on the resolution.

Under the deal, prosecutors dropped a charge of public indecency and replaced it with a charge of prohibited conduct.

“Now he can say he never pleaded guilty to indecent exposure,” said Esther Panitch, a defense attorney and legal analyst for Channel 2 Action News who attended the court hearing. “I was a little surprised when he said the word ‘guilty.’ … Now, all of a sudden, he’s acting like now he’s taking responsibility. That was not his position until today.”

Mann’s case also may have been helped by the recommendation of a psychiatrist, who evaluated him and concluded there was no need for counseling or treatment, according to a court document.

Because Mann paid the fine at the courthouse and already completed his community service, the case against him is closed.

He already completed the 40-day suspension ordered by Gov. Nathan Deal, returning to work Monday. He also had suspended himself for a week for violating the DeKalb Sheriff’s Office Code of Conduct, saying he brought “negative and unwanted criticism” to the department by putting himself in a position where he could be arrested. He was paid during both suspensions, but he said he’d donate the equivalent of one week’s pay to charity.

But Mann still faces a threat to his job, which pays $147,098 a year.

The Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, which certifies the state’s 58,000 officers, will now launch its own investigation, said POST spokesman Ryan Powell earlier this month.

The council could suspend or revoke Mann’s license. A revocation of Mann’s license would result in his removal from office.

About 400 to 500 officers’ certifications are revoked each year, Powell said.

“It’s not uncommon for council to revoke an officer’s certification,” he said. “It’s hard to say” how the council will treat Mann’s case because each allegation is treated independently.

A decision on Mann’s certification could come during the December meeting of the council, which has 21 voting members including sheriffs, police chiefs, mayors and city council members, Powell said.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Cobb cop accused in mentally disabled woman’s assault was once a police chief 
Cobb cop accused in mentally disabled woman’s assault was once a police chief 

Roughly 20 years before Robert Lanier New became embroiled in assault allegations tied to a mentally disabled woman and her niece, he served as the police chief in Emerson.  City officials confirmed to Channel 2 Action News that New had two stints with Emerson police. New first served with the department from September 1998 to February 1999, when...
SATURDAY’S WEATHER-TRAFFIC: Expect more strong afternoon downpours across Georgia
SATURDAY’S WEATHER-TRAFFIC: Expect more strong afternoon downpours across Georgia

Saturday: High: 89 Saturday night: Low: 73 Sunday: High: 91 Severe thunderstorms tore across North Georgia Friday, downing many trees and power lines in the process. While they shouldn’t be as intense as Friday’s, similar storms are expected Saturday afternoon, Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Katie Walls said. “Just...
Atlanta metro population on pace to pass Philadelphia as 8th largest

Metro Atlanta, which has repeatedly outgrown other large American metro areas in recent years, is on pace to overtake Philadelphia as the United States’ eighth-largest by 2022, according to U.S. Census data. Atlanta’s 2017 growth rate of 1.5 percent, higher than eight of the top ten American metro areas, is reflective of the region&rsquo...
JUST IN: Suspect arrested, accused of killing 68 year-old woman
JUST IN: Suspect arrested, accused of killing 68 year-old woman

A man accused of killing killing a 68-year-old woman he allegedly robbed was arrested a week after being on the run, police said.  Sergio Moon, 30, is charged with murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, Monroe police said in a post on its Facebook page. He was arrested at a Norcross home.  MORE: ...
2 injured in wreck; took 45 minutes to extricate driver
2 injured in wreck; took 45 minutes to extricate driver

A head-on collision in Habersham County required both drivers to be extricated and removed from the vehicles, authorities said. The accident took place on Ga. 115 westbound near Habersham Mills Road, according to a Habersham County Emergency Services news release. One driver required a rear window to be broken for first responders to remove him or...
More Stories