Gov. Deal makes suspension of indicted Snellville mayor official


Gov. Nathan Deal made official Wednesday the suspension of indicted Snellville Mayor Tom Witts. 

Witts — who has been charged with 65 felony counts, with allegations ranging from tax evasion to misuse of campaign funds — voluntarily suspended himself from office on Sept. 25, a little over two weeks after a Gwinnett County grand jury handed up his indictment.

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Deal nonetheless appointed Tuesday a three-person committee to review the mayor’s indictment and determine if it “adversely affects” his ability to hold office. The committee, made up of Attorney General Chris Carr and the mayors of Peachtree City and Marietta, decided Wednesday that it does.

The governor subsequently issued an executive order suspending Witts until his criminal case is resolved or until his term expires. Witts, a former city councilman, was elected to his first four-year term as mayor in 2015.

Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Bender has fulfilled Witts’ duties in his absence.

The indictment against Witts was the product of a years-long investigation by Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter and state and federal authorities. The mayor is accused of tax evasion, lying on candidacy affidavits about owing taxes, misusing campaign funds and allowing his company, Georgia Property Restoration, to improperly do business with Snellville while he was in office.

Sixty-five of the indictment’s 66 total charges are felonies. The only misdemeanor involves Witts allegedly using 2015 campaign money to pay for a subscription to a pornography website.

Witts, who turned himself in to the Gwinnett County jail on Sept. 14 and was released on a $20,000 signature bond, has maintained his innocence. In a statement read at a city council meeting in his absence, he said his then-voluntary suspension was necessary in order to focus on his defense.

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