Gresham booked, released
$5,000 bond posted, court date to be set

COVINGTON - Horace Don Gresham, who was indicted by a Newton County Grand Jury for allegedly lying on documents he filed to run for a seat on the Newton County Board of Education, turned himself in to the Newton County Detention Center on Thursday.

Gresham, 72, was allowed to post bond of $5,000 bond and was released. Court dates will be set in the near future.

According to District Attorney Ken Wynne, the grand jury returned a two-count indictment against Gresham on April 3 - one count for false swearing and one count of making a false statement in connection with notice of candidacy. Each count carries a possible sentence of one to five years in jail, Wynne said.

Gresham allegedly lied when he filed to run for the District 2 seat on the Board of Education by swearing in an affidavit that he did not have a prior conviction for a felony involving moral turpitude.

Gresham had been convicted of sodomy with a child under the age of 14 in DeKalb County in 1998.

Gresham's ill-fated attempt to run for office ended shortly after he qualified when the Citizen published an article in May outlining his 1998 criminal conviction. Georgia Election Law states that at least 10 years must have elapsed from the date of completion of a sentence for conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude and qualification to run for elective office. Gresham was convicted in May 1998; his sentence included one year in prison and 11 years on probation, meaning he is not eligible to seek elective office until 2010.

Subsequently, three residents of District 2 challenged Gresham's eligibility to run for office and he withdrew from the race just prior to a hearing before the Newton County Board of Elections.

One of the challengers, Annette Harmon, said at the time she was glad that Gresham had withdrawn his candidacy; however, she said, "that does not eliminate the fact that he still can run for office some day."

State Sen. John Douglas, R-Social Circle, addressed the possibility of a future candidacy by Gresham by introducing a bill in the state Legislature this year that would prohibit sex offenders from running for election to local boards of education. The bill passed in both the House and Senate and awaits the governor's signature.

Douglas' bill amends state law to prohibit anyone on the national or state sex offender registries from being elected to a board of education. Gresham's conviction occurred before the sex offender registry was created and he is not on the list. Douglas said such cases cannot be grandfathered into the law, but he is trying to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future.

Gresham has promised to run for the District 2 Board of Commissioners seat in 2010.

Citizen staffers Alice Queen and Crystal Tatum contributed to this article.

Barbara Knowles can be reached at barbara.knowles@newtoncitizen.com.