JONESBORO, Ga. - Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill has overseen nearly $80,000 in raises during the past three years for a controversial employee Mitzi Bickers. Bicker’s raises along with job promotions leading to the title of chief of staff came after a federal grand jury indicted her for conspiracy to commit bribery.
Sheriff Hill himself is currently on suspension after a federal grand jury indicted him earlier this year for allegedly mistreating prisoners. Both have denied the charges against them and are heading to trial.
Back in 2016, long-time Atlanta pastor Bishop Mitzi Bickers opened up Clayton County Commission meetings with a prayer. It was part of her brand new job as an employee for her longtime friend Sheriff Victor Hill.
Personnel records show Bickers was hired as a corrections officer, even though she wasn't certified as a law enforcement officer. Hill paid her $37,708 a year.
"She was assigned to the jail, she dealt with the inmates," said former Clayton County Major Terry Evans,
Evans was a Major at the jail when Bickers was hired. He later had a falling out with Sheriff Victor Hill and says he was demoted and fired.
"With her being a new employee everybody was respectful and just did their jobs around here," said Evans.
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But then, according to sheriff's office personnel records, 11 months later Sheriff Hill promoted Bickers to Chaplain and increased her pay by $10,000. Then, six months later, that rising star in the sheriff’s office faced a major career hurdle for someone working in law enforcement.
In 2018, a federal grand jury indicted Mitzi Bickers on conspiracy to accept bribes, accusing her of helping steer $17 million in contracts to two construction vendors who earlier pleaded guilty. E.R. Mitchell and Charlie Richards did work for the city of Atlanta where Bickers once worked under then-Mayor Kasim Reed. Bickers denied the charges and is going to trial.
Bishop Mitzi Bickers has been a high-profile and powerful behind-the-scenes political operative in Atlanta for years. Fast-talking and feisty, she helped Kasim Reed get elected mayor and then worked in his administration. She is still bishop of the Emmanuel Baptist church once pastored by her father.
But it was her taxpayer-funded job the I-Team was interested in. According to Clayton County Sheriff's Office's records, following her indictment on public corruption charges, Bickers was twice promoted by the Sheriff, and given 10 raises, nearly tripling her salary to more than $130,000.
"Would it surprise you if I told you she made $130,000?" the FOX 5 I-Team asked former Major Evans.
"That is amazing. Somebody needs to justify that and tell the citizens why," Evans responded
The raises were sometimes simply increased, merit or cost of living, and sometimes came with job promotions. But once in 2020, Sheriff Hill gave Bickers a $30,000 raise with no promotion, according to county records. One month later, Sheriff Hill promoted Bickers to his Chief of staff – with another $21,000 raise, according to county records.
"Would this be surprising to the taxpayers?" FOX 5 asked Clark Cunningham.
"Well of course it should be," he responded.
Clark Cunningham is a Georgia State professor and expert on legal ethics. He found Bicker’s promotion to chief of staff while facing a criminal indictment to be rather unusual.
"What kind of due diligence did he do to make sure he wasn’t hiring a criminal," Cunningham asked.
He has followed Mitzi Bicker’s role in the still-unfolding federal corruption investigation in Atlanta and Clayton County for several years. He said the raises and promotions are troubling.
"This may be just a case of a mixture of incompetence and sort of nepotism, giving public money to a friend for no particularly good reason. But, as I say, I would be concerned there’s something deeper going on," said Cunningham.
Bickers declined to comment on our story. She has denied the charges against her and is going to trial in January.
The FOX 5 I-Team examined her performance reviews. They are studded with 5-star evaluations and glowing praise for her work. But at least one former sheriff's office employee doesn't understand how someone can earn nearly $80,000 in raises after being indicted on public corruption charges.
"Does it make you mad?" FOX 5 asked former Major Evans.
"Absolutely. And guys, females who are out there busting their butt, putting their lives on the lie. this person can come in and make this kind of money doing what," Evans responded.