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Georgia bureau probing extortion allegations against sheriff

May 19, 2021 GMT

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into extortion allegations against a county sheriff.

The state Attorney General’s office requested the GBI open an investigation into Gwinnett County Sheriff Keybo Taylor on Sept. 14, a bureau spokeswoman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday. The GBI said the investigation is “active and ongoing,” but the agency could not provide any additional information.

Taylor, a Democrat, was still a candidate at the time and was elected two months later, becoming the county’s first Black sheriff.

Four lawsuits — one federal and three state — have been filed against Taylor by three Gwinnett County bail bond companies whose businesses were shut down. Their owners claim that Taylor retaliated against them because they did not donate to his election campaign.

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The federal lawsuit filed by Anytime Bail Bonding included a video of Taylor in April 2019 allegedly saying, “if folks don’t support me, I’m not gonna let them bond here.”

In a statement released May 13, Taylor said the video was “misleading” and taken out of context, adding that allegations were “nothing more than a political stunt and trial tactic that attacks my character, my integrity, and my commitment to criminal justice and bail bond reform.”

The sheriff’s statement said he has “sole discretion” over which bail bond companies can operate in the county, and “eliminated several that did not meet my high standards for various reasons.”

The state cases were filed by Anytime Bail Bonding, A-Action, and The Bondsman. That case was dismissed on Tuesday, according to a legal assistant with the county law department; The Bondsman’s owner said he plans to appeal.

Taylor declined to comment to the newspaper and his spokesperson also declined a request for comment on the GBI investigation, the Journal-Constitution said Tuesday.