GBI taking a look at chicken case involving Cobb Commissioner JoAnn Birrell
by Jon Gillooly
June 14, 2013 12:42 AM | 4516 views | 12 12 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Joseph Pond
Joseph Pond
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Chicken activist Joseph Pond of east Cobb has convinced the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to investigate Commissioner JoAnn Birrell over a zoning case involving his hens.

Pond asked Cobb District Attorney Vic Reynolds and Sheriff Neil Warren to investigate Birrell, and they in turn handed the case over to the GBI June 8.

Pond, who has filed two previous ethics complaints against Birrell, both of which have been dismissed by the Cobb Ethics Board, maintains that Birrell not only violated the county’s ethics code by failing to show impartiality on a variance case for backyard chickens, she gave false testimony during her ethics hearing.

“She broke the law,” Pond said. “She’s given false and misleading information.”

Birrell told the MDJ on Thursday, “All I can say is I can assure you once again that I am innocent of any wrongdoing, I have not broken the law, and I have not acted in an unethical or illegal manner, and as long as this is under GBI investigation I can’t really comment on any specifics, but I can assure you I’ve been cleared twice by the ethics board of anything or really of nothing, so we’ll just see what happens.”

Birrell went on to say, “It’s ridiculous and it is harassment and that’s all I can say.”

Pond has a different view.

“I find breaking the state law very serious,” he said. “I do not consider it ridiculous. Was it ridiculous when Bill Clinton was caught lying under oath and he was impeached? Was that harassment? She’s an elected official, and she broke the law, and she needs to be held to the same laws that we are.”

In a Friday email to GBI Special Agent Wesley Horne, Col. Don Hunton with the Cobb Sheriff’s Office writes, “I respectfully request that you open an investigation into Mr. Pond’s complaints. Sheriff Warren and District Attorney Reynolds believe that it would be best if we divest ourselves of the investigation so as to relieve any allegations of a conflict of interest.”

Agent Horne contacted Pond the same day to introduce himself and arrange a time for an interview.

Reynolds said he and Warren opted to turn the request to investigate Birrell over to the GBI since Birrell is an elected official.

Still, Reynolds said residents shouldn’t read anything special into that decision.

“I don’t think it adds any seriousness to it or ratchets it up a notch or two because the GBI’s involved,” Reynolds said. “The primary reason they’re involved is because it does involve the allegations concerning another elected official, and the Sheriff and I both thought that in the end it would be cleaner, it would look better, there would be no appearance of impropriety if the GBI looked at it and the chips fall where they may.”

Reynolds said the agent has not given a specific timeline of how the investigation will play out.

“I would expect the agent to conduct what he believes to be a thorough investigation of any allegations Mr. Pond has just like any other allegation, once he completes his investigation he’ll prepare a report, he’ll certainly copy me and send me the report because ultimately we’ll make a decision here about what he’s done,” Reynolds said.

As in any investigation, the outcome could be that a criminal act occurred and a warrant is issued, or they could decide that they believe a criminal act occurred and opt to discuss the matter with the prosecutor to determine next steps, he said.

“The third option would be there is nothing there,” he said. “The book is shut on it and everybody moves on.”

Pond said he was pleased the GBI was involved.

“I am glad that the wheels of justice are rolling forward,” Pond said. “It’s taken long enough for this to occur. No one in Cobb wanted to touch it, so I’m glad that they invited the state in to investigate it. If the GBI agents look at the evidence and conclude that no law was broken, I will issue an apology to Commissioner Birrell.”

 

Comments
(12)
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A Taxpayer
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June 14, 2013
Forget the chickens -- somebody needs to launch an investigation on why certain county commissioners (Goreham, Cupid, Lee) voted down the IMAGE program that would have kept illegal aliens away from County jobs. I bet there would be some interesting findings there.
Craig Kootsillas
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June 14, 2013
It Should be noted that the original charges against the commissioner never were heard by the ethics commission because the action in question occurred in an email that was six months old.

was the commissioner really cleared of the charges as this article suggests?

the charges never were heard.

Just Wait
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June 14, 2013
What a great use of our state resources. I hate that my tax money is being wasted on this, both inside and outside of the county.
Craig Kootsillas
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June 14, 2013
The lead says Joseph "has convinced the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to investigate".

Then, it is revealed that the DA and Sheriff asked the GBI to intervene.

Which one is it?
Amy Barnes
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June 14, 2013
There were nine other possible violations of the law committed by Code Enforcement. Maybe I need to bring these to light to the GBI, too?

Hmmm. I see a possible case for public corruption here. Hmmm. I know of some other people in this county who might need to be turned into the GBI for possible lies / violations of the law.
For Heavens Sake!
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June 14, 2013
Oh, for heaven's sake. I bet I could follow you around all day and listen to every comment you make and find stuff to nit pick all day long. Ahd that is what this is--nit picking. After this GBI investigation finds Birrell innocent for a third time, I hope chicken guy either (1) moves on with his life or (2) seeks therapy as to why he can't move on with his life.
Gringo Bandito
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June 14, 2013
There is no way Joseph Pond will issue an apology to Commissioner Birrell.
Mike In Smyrna
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June 14, 2013
Under English law, anyone who survived three attempts at hanging would be set free – A True Bill and Birrell should resign - A No Bill and Joseph Pond should be invoiced for the investigation and Birrell's legal fees.
Readmopaper
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June 14, 2013
The first two attempts were before the Ethics Committee. There was no way they were going to find FOR the little guy and AGAINST the Establishment. The trips to the Ethics Committee were a waste of time and shouldn't count.
Whoopsie!
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June 14, 2013
Tim Lee and his pals got P-L-A-Y-E-D by the chicken guy! HA! Chicken guy took big fish Birrell to a bigger pond than her own. Birrell's goose may be cooked!

Maybe chicken guy would drop the charges if the $1000 extortion fee were refunded to anyone who paid it and the "grow your own food" ban (was it lobbied for by Kroger?) were lifted.
anonymous
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June 15, 2013
Whoopsie, you got it all wrong. The chicken movement has stated they do not want to own chickens in Cobb County in order to eat them; they want to grow them for the eggs and to keep them as pets, and to educate children about the food chain. I personally can't see how you can teach children that a chicken lays eggs and we eat the eggs (okay with that); a chicken is a pet (okay with that); yet then offer them chicken nuggets to eat (not okay with that). How do you explain that one? Is Cobb County prepared to give vet care for sick chickens if need be? Is Cobb County prepared to take in neglected and abused chickens if need be? Ching, ta-ching, tax dollars. Someone will have to oversee the well being of chickens just as Animal Control is responsible for overseeing the abuse of other domesticated anomals in the county. Ching, ta-ching, tax dollars. Think about it. Major food chains have absolutey no dog in this fight. Cobb County is not suddenly going to stop buying eggs and chicken if people are allowed to "grow their own chickens." Just about the dumbest thing I have seen written is saying a major food chain will suffer.
Dog in the fight
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June 19, 2013
"Grow your own food": Eggs are food.

Kroger has no dog in this fight? Well nobody is talking about eating dogs. So what? But you bring up a great point. We cannot grow chickens but we can grow dogs. We could also eat dogs, as many people do all over the world. Dog is extremely tasty if you have ever tried it.

Perhaps rather than trying to force the Gub'ment yokels to bend to our will to eat socially acceptable items, we should bend to the Gub'ment will eat start eating dogs. There is NO license required for FIVE of them dogs, and if you have one male and four females you can have a constant supply of puppies to eat! You may need another freezer to keep up.

Thanks Cobb COunty and Anonymous for steering us in the right direction! I will simply eat dogs that I grow in my own back yard!!!! And I will use their own poop as the fuel for cooking them!!!
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