COVINGTON - The state Board of Elections has referred a complaint against former Newton County Board of Education candidate Horace Don Gresham to the Attorney General's Office.
The summary of investigation provided by the Office of Inspector General states that Gresham was not eligible to seek office during his run for school board due to a previous felony conviction and that he made false statements on his qualifying papers.
Gresham was recently indicted and pleaded not guilty in Newton County Superior Court to one count of false swearing and one count of making a false statement in connection with notice of candidacy.
"The Attorney General's Office does not have jurisdiction to prosecute these types of cases. We would be the lead prosecuting office on this case; in light of the fact that we have already obtained an indictment, the referral is moot," said District Attorney Ken Wynne.
Jennifer Ammons, general counsel for the Georgia Department of Drivers Services, is listed as the complainant on the summary of investigation.
Ammons said she did not file a formal complaint.
"I'm a professional acquaintance of the inspector general at the Secretary of State's Office who supervises all the investigators there. It was a voting issue in my local community that I passed on to a professional colleague," she said.
Gresham, 72, allegedly lied in 2008 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 1988.
Gresham's bid for office was subsequently cut short after the Citizen publicized his criminal conviction and three residents of District 2 challenged his eligibility to run for office. 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 1988; his sentence included one year in prison and 11 years on probation, meaning he is not eligible to seek elective office until 2010.
Gresham withdrew from the school board race just prior to a hearing before the Newton County Board of Elections to determine his eligibility.
Currently out on $5,000 bond, he faces a possible sentence of one to five years in jail on each count if convicted.
In response to the Gresham case, state Sen. John Douglas, R-Social Circle, introduced a bill in the Legislature this year that would prohibit sex offenders from seeking election to local boards of education. The bill passed and was signed into law by Gov. Sonny Perdue earlier this month.
Editor Alice Queen contributed to this story.
Crystal Tatum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.