Documents State Former City Supervisor Hit Disabled Employee With a Belt,Former City Commissioner Allegedly Had Knowledge of Cemetery Bribery
During last Monday’s City Commission meeting, two packets that were given to the members on the commission were mentioned during a discussion regarding a personnel issue, which was brought up by Commissioner Olivia Pearson. The Enterprise obtained a copy of both packets, which included documents regarding cases dealing with former city employees/supervisors, Britt Leverette, Gregory Nugent, and Henry Milhollin, who were arrested within the last few months.
The documents state that former City Cemetery Manager Henry Milhollin, who was arrested on bribery charges, claimed that former city commissioner Ronnie Anderson (whom is said to have worked for Bailey Monument at the time) allegedly knew about the bribery while it was occurring. The documents also give detailed information regarding the two employees, Leverette and Nugent, who were arrested in June for allegedly abusing two city employees, including a statement from a witness claiming he saw Leverette hit another employee with a belt and squeezed him so tight the employee’s “eyes bulged out.”
The first packet, which discusses Milhollin’s case, states that during a meeting in November 2018, Keith Hawthorne, owner of Bailey Monument Company, told City Marshal Rodger Goddard that a “conflict” between him and Milhollin began when Hawthorne purchased Bailey Monument Company. According to the document, Hawthorne stated that Milhollin received a check for 10% of the monies received for monuments that were placed inside the city cemetery. The document reads, “Mr. Hawthorne said the payment to Mr. Milhollin was to keep other monument companies out of the city cemetery.”
Hawthorne also told Goddard that he had financial records from September 7, 2007, until April 24, 2016, and the records would show where Milhollin received checks from Bailey’s Monument Company.
Hawthorne claimed the “practice” began when Doug Ward, who was also arrested on bribery charges in July, was a Ward Monument employee. The document states that Hawthorne said that when he purchased Bailey’s Monument Company, he decided he was “no longer going to pay Milhollin,” and “since that time, he has had troubles with Milhollin.”
According to the documents, the day after the meeting, City Manager Charlie Davis met with interim Chief of Police Brannen Pruette and Sgt. Sprinkle regarding the allegations and decided due to the “political sensitive nature of the cemetery,” they would turn the case over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
The documents state that in the month of February of this year, the GBI turned over investigation informally to the District Attorney’s Office.
On August 1, the grand jury indictments for Milhollin, Hawthorne, and Ward, were opened in court. Milhollin was indicted on two counts of bribery and one count of improper influence of a co-office or employee. Hawthorne and Ward were also indicted on one count of bribery each.
During the first week of August 2019, Milhollin was suspended from his job with the City of Douglas.
The document reads that Milhollin was going to be terminated on August 13 but retired before the meeting. According to the documents, Milhollin was to be terminated based on the evidence and statements of the other two vendors that led to the indictment, his arrest on the two counts of bribery, and that he violated the City of Douglas policies.
The document also states that one of the reasons for termination was a statement given to City Manager Charlie Davis and Human Resources Director Tammy Wilkerson (individually and at different times) by Milhollin where he allegedly told them he “received monies for doing a good job.”
The documents also states that Milhollin told Davis and Wilkerson that former Ward 5 city commissioner Ronnie Anderson, who is also running in the November 2019 election, “said it was okay as long as you are treating everyone the same.” According to a document in the packet, Anderson worked for Bailey Monument at the time the alleged bribery was taking place.
According to the documents, Milhollin allegedly implied that he was going to “sue some of the vendors that have given evidence on him” because, according to Milhollin, “it was a lie” and “since a former city council member [Anderson] knew and told him it was okay to accept charitable donations.”
Wilkerson stated just before the meeting where Milhollin was going to be terminated, he walked into the Human Resources department and stated he “made up his mind to retire on Wednesday, August 7, 2019,” after he “didn’t hear back from the City of Douglas on August 6 on the status of his employment.”
Milhollin also allegedly told Wilkerson if he were there to be asked to consider staying, he didn’t want to work for the City of Douglas any longer.
The second packet focuses on the termination of Leverette and Nugent, who were both arrested in June of this year after they allegedly abused two other city employees. The packet includes several documents with detailed information regarding Leverette’s and Nugent’s terminations, including multiple witness statements during interview’s with the Douglas Police Department.
Documents stated that on May 17, 2019, an employee met with Davis and Wilkerson to discuss “ways he has been treated and things he has witnessed over the past few years.”
The employee stated that he had “been bullied for years and had taken all that he could take.” He also stated that he no longer wanted to continue his employment with the City of Douglas.
The employee claimed that he had been touched in an “inappropriate manner” by Nugent and that he had only talked to a few people about it, including his family and City of Douglas Human Generalist Kristi Morgan.
The employee told Davis that he asked Morgan not to say anything, but she told him due to the nature of the incident and because of her position with the city, she had to report it.
The employee stated that although Morgan had reported the abuse, he felt that it “didn’t do any good” because “nothing was really done about it.”
According to the documents, the employee was moved to a different maintenance department, but he stated the “unfair treatment” continued because Leverette was “constantly calling him to do other jobs” regardless of his new position.
The employee also stated that his immediate supervisor at the time, Leverette, was “overbearing” and that he witnessed Leverette abusing another employee on “numerous occasions” by “holding him down until he turned blue.” The employee also stated that he witnessed Leverette hit that same employee with a belt.
The employee continued saying that he and the other employee were “constantly picked on.” According to this employee, the other worker was also moved to a different maintenance crew to “get rid of him” and that the employee being abused by Leverette would “never say anything about it because he was afraid of losing his job.”
The employee also told Davis and Wilkerson that he had witnessed Leverette use City of Douglas property to do other jobs that did not pertain to the city and that he had been asked to hold a flashlight while Leverette worked on other projects unrelated to the City of Douglas during working hours.
The documents reveal that this employee was “about 3 months” away from being vested with the City of Douglas, and if he quit at that time, he would lose any retirement benefits in the future. According to Wilkerson, Davis “plead” with the employee to continue working, but the employee stated that “at this point and with all he had endured, with being bullied, he was willing to lose it all.”
The documents also state that Davis asked the employee to take the weekend and think about the option of being placed into another department until his vested time so he would be able to receive his retirement benefits.
On Monday, May 20, 2019, according to the documents, the employee called Wilkerson and stated that he considered his options and decided that he still did not want to work for the City of Douglas. Although he allegedly stated that he “appreciated everything” and accepted Davis’ apology on behalf of what he had endured, his “time with the city was up.”
The employee also told Wilkerson that if she wanted to see how he and the other employee were being bullied and picked on, she could go down to the annex and look on the refrigerator and see an AFLAC duck that had his and the other employee’s social security numbers written and exposed for everyone that came in there to see.
The documents stated that the employee said he “probably should have said something else” prior and that he was “sorry he had went on so long without saying anything else about it to make things better for himself.” He also stated that he “appreciated the effort that the city manager and I [Wilkerson] were making to investigate because in doing so, it may help someone else in the future to not have to go through what he had to go through and live with for the past few years.”
A typed statement from Morgan is also included in the packet, which states that previously in August 2017, the employee who was allegedly being bullied by Nugent told her that he was being “groped” by Nugent, and it had “been going on for quite sometime.” He also told Morgan that there had been “a lot of bullying” going on and that the other employee who was said to have been being bullied was “told he couldn’t do his job” and that he was “hit by a belt.”
Morgan stated that she asked the employee if anyone had witnessed the other employee being hit by a belt, and she was told, “there were several people around when it happened.” The employee told Morgan that after the other employee was hit by the belt, he tried to defend him and that made Leverette “mad.” The employee stated that after the fact, Leverette began “slowly taking responsibilities away from him, and he didn’t know how much more he could take.”
The documents state the employee said he and the other worker had not reported the incidents because they “feared they would lose their jobs.” Morgan commented that the employee was “visibly upset.”
Wilkerson stated that she ultimately told Parks and Recreation Department Director Stevie Young about the issue, who later told her he had a meeting with his entire department and told them to “keep their hands to themselves” and wrote up Nugent for his actions.
Multiple witness statements from the case, whose names were withheld, corroborated the employee’s claim. Witnesses state they saw Nugent hit the employee on the butt “3 or 4 times,” heard the employee tell Nugent to stop, and smelled alcohol on Nugent’s breath one day at work. Another witness stated that he never saw Nugent touch the employee but “heard Nugent talk about it like he was proud of it.”
One witness stated that Nugent would touch the employee on the butt “constantly,” that he came back to work once “drunk as a skunk,” said Nugent was “always acting like he was going to touch the employee” after he was warned not to, and claimed that Nugent would “drink on the job and Leverette allowed it.”
Another witness also stated that if the employee being abused had been a female, Nugent would have [already] been fired.
Nugent’s own statements regarding the situation were included in the packet, where he admitted to “spanking him [the employee] on the tail,” admitted to being “talked to twice about touching the employee,” and admitted to “acting like he was going to touch the employee or spank him but didn’t touch him after being talked to.”
Another document included in the packet is a write-up of a conversation, which took place between Davis, Wilkerson, and the disabled city employee who was allegedly being bullied and hit with a belt by Leverette. The document reads that the employee was at first hesitant to discuss the incident and stated he was a “person who likes to forgive and forget, and he didn’t want to tell something and cause anyone to be put in jail.”
The document states that after Davis assured the employee that he would “be protected,” the employee expressed that at times he did not want to come to work because he was afraid of not knowing what kind of mood Leverette and another city employee, Henry Milhollin’s son Joshua Milhollin, would be in and how they would treat him.
The employee states that he would “often talk nice to detour them from talking down to him” and that when his wife was alive, she would often tell him that he needed to “stand up for himself.”
The employee told Davis and Wilkerson that Leverette has “often held him down by his shoulders and it was quite painful” and that Levertte has “hit him with a belt before.”
Wilkerson stated the employee “showed signs of fear,” and when Davis asked why he was afraid, the employee responded, “Because you never know what people will do to you.”
Witness statements from Leverette’s case were also included, which include five individuals corroborating the employee’s claims of abuse. The first witness stated that he saw Leverette “squeeze the employee to the point he almost passed out,” “heard the employee ask him [Leverette] to please quit, it hurts,” and that it occurred “1-2 times a week.” The witness also stated that Leverette cursed at employees under him.
Witness two also stated that he saw Leverette squeeze the employee to the point where he would “almost pass out and had tears in his eyes” and that “Leverette knew he was hurting the employee. He knew the employee was weak and took advantage of him.”
One witness claims that Leverette is a “bully” and also witnessed the abuse. The witness also “agreed that it occurred probably 2-3 times per week that Leverette would do this.”
Another witness told the police that he saw Leverette “choke the employee until his eyes bulged out” and that Leverette “verbally abused the employee every day.” The witness states the abuse occurred “at least once a week.”
The last witness stated that he “heard about Leverette choking the employee but didn’t witness it himself” and has “heard Leverette repeatedly be verbally abusive to the employee.”
Leverette told police that he “knew the employee was disabled and that he moved the employee to work in another department because he was disabled.” Leverette also claimed that the employee “is the one that liked to play because he likes wrestling” and accused the employee of “walking up and hitting him.”
Leverette did admit to “walking up and squeezing the employee’s shoulders 2-3 times, but he really didn’t honker down.” Leverette also denied ever hurting the employee and said if the employee ever asked him to stop, he would.
Leverette claimed, “Some of the other witnesses are mad at him because he has demoted them.”
The document states that when the police asked Leverette who may have seen the employee hit him, he couldn’t name anyone.
Nugent and Leverette were both arrested on June 5, 2019, with Nugent being charged on one count of sexual battery and one count of stalking and Leverette being charged with one count of exploitation of a disabled adult. On the day of the arrests, both employees were placed on a paid leave.
According to the documents, after Leverette’s arrest, his attorney showed up at the victim’s home and tried to “talk him into dropping the charges.” A photograph of Leverette’s attorney’s business card, which was given to the victim, was included in the packet.
An e-mail from Davis to a Douglas Police Department detective was included in the packet, which stated that on June 6, Leverette’s wife, Edy Leverette, met with him and Wilkerson. Edy told Davis that they were “going to fight this,” and they “did not know the employee was handicapped,” despite the previous statement from Leverette allegedly admitting that he did know that the employee was “disabled” during his interview with police.
On June 10, both Leverette and Nugent were terminated.
The employees both appealed their termination, and the cases were reviewed during an ADHOC hearing in July. According to notes from Nugent’s hearing with ADHOC, Nugent admitted that after being told not to touch the employee, he would “act as if he was going to and he actually stood up and demonstrated how he did when he acted like he was going to hit” the employee.
The document states that the committee agreed by “Nugent’s own omission that he clearly violated” the rules of conduct, policy # 19 violence in the workplace when he “admitted to slapping him on the butt with an open hand and a little later admitted to popping him 3 or 4 times and stated that he knows he should not have done it.”
Leverette’s appeal hearing took place on July 19 and received the same decision to uphold the termination. A summary of why each committee member voted to uphold the decision to terminate included: written interview statements of co-workers that they had witnessed Leverette either hold employee down by pressing his shoulders, and some of the interviewees even stated in their statement they have heard the employee ask Leverette to stop and that Leverette would repeatedly do this; by Leverette’s own admission that he has physically made contact with the employee before, but that he would stop when asked and viewed it as “horseplay, no different from guys on a ball field roughing each other up,” and hearing Leverette’s attorney stating that Leverette “may have used abusive language but ‘who doesn’t’ which means abusive language had been used, which is a violation of rules of personal conduct.”
The document states that all committee members present agreed that no one has the right to touch another person, whether it is horseplay or not.
The packets also include a statement from a citizen claiming Leverette charged personal work to the City of Douglas, rather than paying for it himself. According to the individual, he asked Leverette how much he would charge him to paint four chairs for his wife, and Leverette stated that he would “get back to him.” When they spoke again, Leverette told him he would get them painted and for the individual not to worry about the cost.
The individual stated that on May 31, he decided to go to the man’s home who was painting the chairs and the man stated that Leverette had told him to bill the City of Douglas for the work. The individual claimed that he then paid the man the $60 and asked him to call the city to void the invoice.
The individual then reported it to the city manger.
All of the evidence and documents included in this packet are related to personnel issues and are separate from legal actions. Neither Milhollin, Leverette or Nugent have yet to go to court for any of the allegations and their indictments.