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Covington Councilman Anthony Henderson faces allegations of voter fraud
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COVINGTON — Covington City Councilman Anthony Henderson is facing allegations that he committed voter fraud in the 2017 municipal election.

According to the Secretary of State’s Office, evidence suggests that Henderson allegedly assisted or convinced nine people to falsify their residency information on voter registration cards so that they could vote for him. Six of those people allegedly voted for Henderson, even though they did not live in Post 3 West Ward, Henderson’s district in the city.

The State Election Board conducted a hearing on the allegations on Feb. 17 and voted to bind the cases over to the state Attorney General’s Office and the Newton County District Attorney’s Office for possible prosecution.

“We will continue to root out voting fraud and make sure anyone guilty of it faces prosecution,” said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger following the hearing where Henderson’s and other cases were heard. “Fortunately, these individual cases aren’t large enough to change the outcome of a statewide election. Their prosecution is an example to others who may contemplate skirting the rules that protect election integrity in Georgia.”

Henderson declined comment and referred all questions to his attorney, Edward Tolley of Athens.

The Secretary of State’s Office began looking into the allegations after being contacted in 2017 by former Newton County elections director Angela Mantle, who reported a suspicious pattern of voter registrations. According to the Secretary of State, several of the suspicious registrations used a residence on Puckett Street as their voting address but had a mailing address in the county.

As part of the investigation, the Secretary of State’s Office interviewed 10 residents. In one instance they found that a woman who had not lived in Covington for five years listed her address on Puckett Street at a vacant house where there was no power.

Residents who allegedly participated in using false voter registration addresses or allowing false addresses to be inserted for them were: Jaquory Saxton, Larry Saxton, Casetra Marks, Arthur Holmes, Kabrea Lassiter, Demetrius Darty, Adasa David, Jeryca Lattimore and James Huff. According to the Secretary of State, six of the nine cast votes — Jaquory Saxton, Larry Saxton, Marks, Holmes, Lattimore and Lassiter.

Henderson, who may be the youngest candidate ever elected to the City Council, won the 2017 election outright in a three-way race against Jeffrey Johnson and incumbent Ocie Franklin. Henderson garnered 273 votes to Franklin’s 92 and Johnson’s 108.

Henderson, who works for Newton County as a code enforcement officer, was placed on administrative leave on Feb. 19 pending the outcome of the case against him. According to the county’s employee handbook, an employee may be placed on administrative leave when the employee is being investigated by Newton County for possible misconduct or by a law enforcement department for possible criminal law violation. Under the county policy, Henderson was paid for the first 10 days of the administrative leave.

Henderson’s father, J.C. Henderson, represents District 4 on the Newton County Board of Commissioners.

Prior to working as a code enforcement officer, Henderson worked in the jail as a detention officer for the Newton County Sheriff’s Office.

Conyers celebrates St Patrick's Day with pet parade

CONYERS — The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Olde Town Conyers looked a little different this year, as the traditional parade was not held due to COVID-19 concerns. Instead, animals took the lead with a St. Pet’s Day Stroll.

Pet owners and their pets, most in costume, were led by the Free Range Minstrel David Court, a one-man band, and Mayor Vince Evans down Commercial Street.

Lila Moon and Roxy won the prize for the Best Dressed Pet, sponsored by The Pampered Puppy. Two-year-old Jacob Ramos was named the King of St. Patrick’s Day, and 18-month-old Skylar Burns was named Queen. Jim Sendelbach and his Owl-Fred won the Lucky Leprechaun Lookalike award.

Conyers Police Department’s K9 Wick to get donation of body armor
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CONYERS — Conyers Police Department’s K9 Wick, handled by Officer Brandon DeCosse, will receive a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s Inc.

K9 Wick’s vest will be embroidered with the sentiment “Born to Love-Trained to Serve-Loyal Always.” Delivery is expected within eight to 10 weeks.

Vested Interest in K9s Inc., established in 2009, is a 501(c)(3) charity whose mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States. This potentially lifesaving body armor for four-legged K9 officers is U.S. made, custom fitted, and NIJ certified. Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s has provided more than 4,210 vests to K9s in all 50 states at a value of $6.9 million, made possible by both private and corporate donations.

The program is open to U.S. dogs that are at least 20 months old and actively employed and certified with law enforcement or related agencies. K9s with expired vests are also eligible to participate. There are an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s throughout the United States.

Vested Interest in K9s accepts tax-deductible contributions in any amount, while a single donation of $960 will sponsor one vest. Each vest has a value of $1,744-$2,283, weighs an average of 4-5 pounds and comes with a five-year warranty. For more information, or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please call 508-824-6978. Vested Interest in K9s provides information, lists events, and accepts donations at www.vik9s.org, or contributions may be mailed to P.O. Box 9, East Taunton, MA 02718.

“K9 Officer DeCosse and his partner Wick have already made great cases together and have a great working relationship,” Police Chief Gene Wilson said. “We are proud of their partnership and look forward to all they will accomplish together, more safely, with the crucial need of this vest.”

Former Conyers mayoral candidate Olivia Ware charged with stealing from Paycheck Protection Program
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ATLANTA — Olivia Ware, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for mayor of Conyers in 2017, has been arraigned on federal charges of bank fraud and money laundering stemming from an alleged scheme to use a company she started to steal over $323,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program.

Ware, 61, a resident of Oxford, was arraigned on March 16. She allegedly used the money to buy an in-ground swimming pool, furniture and other home improvement items and to pay down the principal on her mortgage.

“Authorities continue to examine Paycheck Protection Program loans for acts of fraud, as the charges against Ware demonstrate,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “Those who would consider stealing from the Paycheck Protection Program should think twice.”

According to Erskine and other information presented in court, in 2020, Ware was the CEO of a Georgia company called Let’s Talk About the Family Inc., but according to state records, it did not pay wages to any employees. Ware allegedly submitted a false application to a bank for a PPP loan for the company that included fictitious tax records purporting to show the company had 54 employees that were paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary. As a result of this false information, the bank loaned over $323,000 in PPP funds to Ware’s company.

“It has been said that bad times bring out the best in people, this case is not an example of that,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations operations in Georgia and Alabama. “Ware tried to defraud the government out of money meant to help small businesses affected by the pandemic continue operations and take care of their employees. Instead of helping others through a difficult time as the money was intended, she used the money for personal gain. Every time a fraudster steals money from the PPP fund another legitimate business is unable to get those funds to help real employees with real families.”

During Ware’s 2017 campaign for mayor, Ware cited experience as a community leader, grant proposal writer, public speaker, family counselor, business development consultant and minister as part of her background. Ware also ran for mayor of Conyers in 2013 but was declared ineligible after she falsely claimed that she had been a legal resident of the city for the required period of time. Voter registration records and voting history showed that Ware resided at addresses in both unincorporated Rockdale County and Newton County in 2012. Ware sued the city claiming that the city failed to notify her of a hearing on the issue by regular or certified U.S. mail or by hand delivery. Ware subsequently dropped the lawsuit and apologized to the city.

This case is being investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bernita B. Malloy and Trevor C. Wilmot are prosecuting the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.