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Thursday December 13th, 2018 12:54PM

Former DeKalb Co. sheriff confesses to ordering hit on rival

By The Associated Press
<p>Former DeKalb County Sheriff Sidney Dorsey has confessed to ordering a hit on his would-be successor, but claimed he later called it off, District Attorney Gwen Keyes Fleming said Thursday.</p><p>At Dorsey's request, he and Fleming met July 13 at the Georgia State Penitentiary in Reidsville, where Dorsey is serving life in prison after being convicted of plotting the killing of his rival, DeKalb County Sheriff-Elect Derwin Brown.</p><p>Brown was gunned down December 15, 2000, in his driveway, three days before he was to take office after defeating Dorsey in an election highlighted by claims of corruption within the sheriff's department.</p><p>Before the meeting with Fleming, Dorsey had never acknowledged being involved in Brown's death. But he was implicated through two of the four other men who were charged in the killing, all employees of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office who allegedly were promised preferential treatment if Dorsey returned to office after the hit.</p><p>According to Fleming, Dorsey told her that after the August 12, 2000, election, he was angry about losing and his marriage was in turmoil in the wake of sexual harassment allegations. A few days after the election, Dorsey gave Patrick Cuffy a note ordering the assassination.</p><p>But Dorsey said that a few weeks later, he cooled off and had "a change of heart," Fleming said.</p><p>"I was crazy. I was out of my mind. I want to move on with my life. Forget that," Fleming said Dorsey told Cuffy. Dorsey told Fleming he had no knowledge the assassination would proceed.</p><p>Cuffy and Paul Skyers became witnesses for the prosecution and were granted full immunity for their cooperation in the March 2002 state trial. Cuffy admitted to recruiting Melvin Walker, David Ramsey and Skyers to take part in the killing and Skyers admitted to his role.</p><p>Walker and Ramsey were acquitted during the state trial, but were convicted in August 2005 of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire. Both men are serving life sentences in federal prisons.</p><p>Dorsey's confession has been little consolation to the Brown family, said Brown's daughter, Brandy Brown Rhodes, who attended the press conference Thursday and called the confession "a joke."</p><p>"I don't think it's the complete truth, if any of it is. It was a waste of taxpayers' time for him to request that meeting," she said.</p><p>It is unclear why Dorsey is coming forward after seven years. He has exhausted his appeals, Walker and Ramsey are serving life sentences and neither Cuffy or Skyers can be prosecuted.</p><p>After Brown's murder, his widow, Phyllis Brown, received $75,000 from a state fund, but she argued her family would have received more had the killing taken place after he took office. Brown had resigned from his post as a sheriff's deputy after his election victory, so he wasn't treated as if he'd been killed in the line of duty.</p><p>Before she died in 2006, Phyllis Brown filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Dorsey, the others involved in the murder and DeKalb County. The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled in November 2005 that the county could not be held liable because the sheriff is a state officer. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider the case.</p><p>Steve Leibel, the lawyer for the Brown family, said Thursday's development strengthens their claim against the state.</p><p>"The state of Georgia has a moral obligation, in light of the sheriff's confession, to compensate this family," he said.</p>
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