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TOP STORIES OF 2009: Politicians get in legal trouble

COVINGTON -- Politics and crime don't make good companions, but headlines were made in 2009 when law enforcement became involved with at least two Newton County politicians -- J.C. Henderson and Horace Don Gresham.

Henderson, a Newton County commissioner, was arrested on the afternoon of Oct. 10 at his home at 7134 Puckett St. by Covington Police Department officers following a complaint of domestic abuse.

Although both Henderson, 53, and his wife denied a physical assault had taken place, a 911 call was placed by Quinn Henderson, the Hendersons' son, who said he heard arguing and made the call at his mother's request.

CPD Officers observed injuries to Mrs. Henderson's face and charged J.C. Henderson with battery under the Family Violence Act.

Would-be politician Horace Don Gresham, 72, was indicted by a Newton County grand jury after fraudulently swearing in an affidavit to the Newton County Board of Elections in April 2008 that he did not have a prior conviction for a felony involving moral turpitude. In fact, Gresham had been convicted of sodomy with a child under the age of 14 in DeKalb County in 1998.

Gresham pleaded guilty in July to false swearing in connection with his attempt to run for a seat on the Newton County Board of Education in July 2008. He was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay a fine of $1,000.

After his sodomy conviction was made public by the Citizen, Gresham removed his name from the ballot just prior to a hearing before the Newton County Board of Elections in 2008, but vowed he would run for the District 2 Board of Commissioners seat in 2010.

"He will not be eligible to seek office upon the expiration of his sentence," said District Attorney Ken Wynne following Gresham's sentencing on the false swearing charges. "It is our hope that this puts an end to Mr. Gresham's political aspirations. Should he think otherwise, probation will not be an option in the future."

Gresham's ill-fated bid for a seat on the school board inspired State Sen. John Douglas, R-Social Circle, to introduce a bill to the state Legislature this year that would prohibit convicted sex offenders from running for election on local boards of education. The bill became law on July 1.