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Attorneys Cohilas and King Conspire to Damage Commissioner John Hayes

Feb 17, 2018 | February2018 |

John Hayes
Dougherty County Commissioner

Christopher Cohilas
Dougherty County Commission Chairman

Maurice L. King, Jr.
Attorney representing Interim Dougherty County Administrator Mike McCoy.

Easter Hardy
Attorney King’s former Law Office Manager

Carlton Fletcher
Editor, The Albany Herald

In January 2017, The Americus Sumter Observer reported, “Albany Commissioner Hayes Victimized by Albany Attorneys Cohilas and King.” Today we are compelled to report even more attempted assaults on Dougherty County Commissioner Hayes by the Commission’s Chair, Chris Cohilas and his lackey Albany attorney, Maurice King.

Attorney Henry Williams spoke with Commissioner Cohilas in 2016 about the dispute between Assistant County Administrator, currently Interim, Mike McCoy, and Commissioner John Hayes. Cohilas told Attorney Williams that “If Hayes were to step down, all of this (meaning the then alleged dispute between McCoy and Hayes) will go away.” Cohilas urged Attorney Williams to meet with Hayes to relay his offer that if Hayes were to remove himself from the Dougherty County
Commission, all of his trouble would be concluded.

Cohilas had been upset with Hayes about Hayes’ opposition to the Commission’s proposed funding of the Albany/Dougherty County Economic Development Commission (EDC). Hayes had also opposed some appointments that Cohilas wanted on various Dougherty County Boards, as well as the EDC Board.

“Attorney Maurice King became livid when his longtime office manager left his law practice for employment with the former Capitol City Bank of Albany where Commissioner Hayes served as the South Regional Manager,” according to the Americus
Sumter Observer publisher, Dr. John Marshall. “Following the law office manager’s departure, King immediately ceased his association with The Observer’s publisher, Commissioner Hayes and former State Representative, Lawrence Roberts, by expressing his anger based upon his belief that both Roberts and Dr. Marshall knew of his manager, Easter Hardy’s decision
to leave his law practice,” in advance of Ms. Hardy’s resignation, according to Marshall; when each of them met regularly
to discuss issues of concern within the community.

Currently, the retired Dougherty County Administrator, Richard Crowdis, and Assistant Administrator Mike McCoy, through communications that the Commission has received from his attorney, Maurice King, a demand claiming McCoy’s entitlement to become the County Administrator simply because he was the assistant to Crowdis for the past several years. A majority of the Commission has expressed a desire to search for the best-qualified candidate to serve as Dougherty County’s Administrator, through a national search. McCoy’s lawyer, Maurice King, has asserted on McCoy’s behalf a second lawsuit, by sending McCoy’s Ante-Litem Notice to the Dougherty County Commission. That is a pre-lawsuit notice to the County that a lawsuit is threatened to follow by a certain deadline which, by law, is twelve (12) months or less. King has threatened to file a $3 million dollar suit for McCoy’s claimed damaged due to the Commission’s decision not to promote McCoy to the chief position without advertising in a national search on his client’s behalf. King is alleging that McCoy was a whistleblower when he, in 2016, claimed that he had an alleged altercation with John Hayes during a planned trip to Savannah on behalf of a special youth development program funded through the Commission.

McCoy has, moreover, leveled a claim accusing the four Blacks on the Commission of retaliation being made against him by the majority Black Commission members on behalf of John Hayes. When The Observer interviewed one of the Black Commissioners about the retaliation claim by McCoy’s lawyer, the reply was an immediate “absolutely no truth to (the allegation of retaliation against McCoy).” Commissioners Lamar Hudgins, Ewell Lyle, and Chairman Cohilas, all of whom are Caucasian, have openly supported McCoy on his immediate elevation to County Administrator and to disregard a national search for qualified candidates to be vetted by the Commission, prior to its decision. The four Black Commissioners do not feel
McCoy is necessarily the best qualified to be the County Administrator, especially without conducting a comprehensive search of all interested candidates.

The first lawsuit filed against the County Commissioners was in 2016 for $1 million dollars by McCoy’s lawyer and the County Commission elected to settle the suit out of court for $50,000.00, awarded to Mike McCoy. No litigation discovery was conducted nor were there any pre-trial proceedings ever engaged by the County’s Attorney prior to the settlement. “Commission Chair Cohilas spushed for the settlement to enhance and to reward what King was doing in his efforts to defame and malign Commissioner Hayes, who is up for reelection this year,” commented Dr. Marshall.

The alleged dispute between Hayes and McCoy occurred in April 2016 while on a field trip to Savannah, Georgia with students of the Dougherty County School System. The trip was sponsored by GCAPS (Georgia Civic Awareness Program for Students), which is funded through the Dougherty County Commission. Hayes is one of the initiators of the program and The Observer has been told by one of the participants, “Hayes was trying to correct missteps by McCoy and give him guidance in offering to mentor him,” but it apparently resulted in a perceived dispute between Hayes and McCoy. McCoy alleged that Hayes “touched his nose during an apparent disagreement between the two and after approximately two hours, McCoy decided to contact the Savannah Police.” The Observer has since learned that the Savannah Policeman was puzzled as to why he had been called to the hotel where the alleged incident occurred and ultimately determined that there was nothing to officially report.

The incident was later reported in The Albany Herald with three articles above the fold in 2016. “As a publisher of my own newspaper, it appears that The Herald was interested in only doing the bidding of Cohilas to rid the Commission of Hayes and to personally destroy him.” Then Attorney Maurice King piled on with the initial lawsuit for $1 million dollars and Cohilas generously settled with King for $50,000.00 in 2016 with the apparent agenda to “further crush Commissioner Hayes,” commented Dr. Marshall.

According to Marshall, he spoke with Attorney Maurice King’s former office manager, Easter Hardy, and “she informed me that she ‘was not hired by John Hayes at Capitol City Bank, but was hired by the Bank’s CEO, George Andrews.'” Ms. Hardy, moreover, stated to The Observer that she “… left King’s law office only because she needed health insurance and retirement that she couldn’t get with King’s firm.” Ms. Hardy was employed with King’s law office from 2005 to 2013 and she observed that “King was very vindictive with so many people.” Ms. Hardy also expressed her confusion as to why King became so bitter
about her resignation and stopped his association with Dr. Marshall and former Representative Lawrence Roberts,” commented Marshall.

Dr. Marshall stated to The Observer that he was totally shocked to read the recent editorial comments authored by Carlton Fletcher, the newly-promoted Editor of The Albany Herald, in its January 31, 2018 edition. Whereupon reading the editorial, it became very obvious that Fletcher is likewise doing the bidding of Commissioner Cohilas in his apparent vendetta against
Commissioner John Hayes. More importantly, Dr. Marshall further expressed how he was “stunned to read Fletcher’s editorial attack on one of Albany’s most prominent pastors in the person of The Reverend Lorenzo Heard by accusing District 3 County Commissioner, Clinton Johnson, the youngest member of the Commission, of being a mere puppet for the Reverend Heard, and is there only to do Heard’s bidding because the Greater Second Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church pastor is his boss.”

In Americus, Georgia, we had the same problem with the Editor of The Americus Times Recorder newspaper, wherein the editor would denigrate and bash black prominent citizens who were trying to uplift the Black Community in its quest for justice and fairness in Americus. The Sumter Observer countered that type of obvious racially bias reporting with informative articles, editorial, and cartoons targeting The Times Recorder newspaper. The effect was The Times Recorder newspaper dropped its publishing schedule from a six-days-a-week paper to now a one-day-aweek publication. The Black community, in reaction to the biased publishing of such articles and editorials, stopped subscribing to and the vending purchase of The Times
Recorder and the paper ultimately went down in its circulation with the Americus- Sumter Community by both Blacks and Caucasians. “The Americus-Sumter Observer desires to inform the citizens of Albany and Dougherty County that they do not have to tolerate nor indulge in Fletcher’s brazen and insulting attack on a very fine Minister of the Gospel as The Reverend
Lorenzo Herd, which in turn, is an insult to our community,” observed Dr. Marshall, the publisher of this newspaper.

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March 2018 Vol. XXI No. 2