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The Money Trail: Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill | News

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The Money Trail: Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill
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CLAYTON COUNTY, GA (WXIA) – Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill has kept a low profile since critically shooting a friend in May.

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On May 3, Hill called 911 and reported that he accidentally shot Gwenevere McCord, at a 43-year-old subdivision model home in Gwinnett County, according to police. He was charged with misdemeanor reckless conduct in connection with the incident.

According to Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter, Hill says the shooting was an accident that happened while he was "practicing police tactics."

The wound destroyed McCord's spleen and one of her kidneys, and it also cost her a portion of her large intestine, according to her father. Still, a photo was posted on Hill's Facebook page on July 23, which appears to show McCord visiting the sheriff.

Outside of images in social media, Hill has been scarcely seen, but we saw him just a few weeks ago – outside the state of Georgia.

His black Chevrolet Camaro stood out in small-town Athens, Alabama. He and his county-issued vehicle were there for a four-day workshop on tai chi training, all paid for with tax dollars.

All taught in a simple downtown Athens building with hand-written signs. 11Alive's Catie Beck watched from outside as the class took up most of the day, breaking for lunch with other classmates. When the day was done, Hill would head over to the local Hampton Inn for five nights.

Through an open records request, we were able to learn that the training trip, costing Clayton County taxpayers more than $1,000, was one of the cheapest that Sheriff Hill has taken in the past year and a half.

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"For someone who is already in the hot seat, it's surprising to me to see such a brazen trip and expense," said Ryan Splitlog of Common Cause Georgia.

Since January 2014, the sheriff has been training coast to coast – like for a week-long trip to Los Angeles for survival tactics training with a price tag of $2,156 – or a six-day defensive training in Pittsburgh for $3,400. Both times, the sheriff flew first class.

"It's clearly not a responsible use of public tax dollars and ultimately is an abuse of the public trust," said Splitlog.

In 2014 and 2015, travel records show trips to DC, Florida, Texas, Michigan – again, all on the county's dime. But how about these three expenses: trips Hill took to the same city and state – in fact to the same resort and casino – the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi.

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All three trainings by the same group, but for different things, like combat shooting, room clearing and firearms. Hill went in March 2014, for a cost of $3,100; June 2014, with a cost of $2,152, and April 2015, for a cost of $1,719.

Let's take a closer look at one of those trips. Like March 2014 – Hill spent four nights. The dates listed for the training in a La Quinta Hotel in Biloxi, price tag $371.84, but then Hill moves to the Beau Rivage, where gambling is the main draw, and he spends and additional seven nights – for $1,975, billing it all back to Clayton County taxpayers.

That same trip, Hill uses more tax money to buy extreme video eyewear, ammunition and two machete knives. He also billed $100 for a buffet dinner at another nearby casino.

After submitting expenses for his Athens trip, we requested an interview with Hill to discuss his travel expenses – but he never gave us an answer. He has said, repeatedly, that he will not talk to the media while his active case is pending.

"Sheriff Hill should really consider returning the money," said Splitlog. "It's clearly wasteful spending and the public deserves some recourse for it."

We also wanted to ask the sheriff why the Camaro is one of three department vehicles assigned to him. Records show he has also been assigned a Chevrolet Tahoe and a Chevrolet Suburban. And about the necessity of commemorative coins which feature his name on one side, and a Batman emblem on the other. An order of these cost Clayton County taxpayers $2,000.

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