Prosecutor drops 2 remaining charges against ex-police chief and top aide after indictment dismissed


BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — Prosecutors have dropped two remaining charges against a former Georgia police chief and a top aide two months after the state’s highest court threw out an indictment charging the men with violating their oaths of office.

A Superior Court judge granted on Tuesday prosecutors’ motion to withdraw pending charges of influencing a witness and subornation of perjury against former Glynn County Police Chief John Powell and his former chief of staff, Brian Scott.

District Attorney Joe Mulholland's decision to drop the case ends a four-year effort to prosecute Powell and Scott for what prosecutors called an illegal effort to cover up a narcotics officer’s improper relationship with a confidential informant.

“Of course, we are grateful that justice has been served,” Powell's attorney, Tom Withers, said in an emailed statement Wednesday.

Scott's attorney, Tracy Alan Brown, said in an email that they “are both extremely pleased that this lengthy legal saga is over. He has maintained his innocence from the beginning.”

The police officials were originally indicted in February 2020, though the oath violation counts and other charges were dismissed months later. Prosecutors obtained a second indictment in 2021 that renewed the oath violation charges.

However, the Georgia Supreme Court threw out the second indictment in April, ruling that it was fatally flawed by technical errors.

The problem cited by the court was that the indictment charged both men with violating a specific part of their oath: to uphold due process rights under the U.S. Constitution. Turning a blind eye to police misconduct, the justices said in the unanimous ruling, isn’t a due process issue.

The state Supreme Court's decision all but ended the prosecution of Powell and Scott, as Georgia law prohibits indicting the same person more than twice for the same offense.

Mulholland, an outside district attorney assigned to the case after Glynn County prosecutors recused themselves, notified a Superior Court judge June 18 that he would not pursue the only two charges still pending from the original indictment.

The allegations of scandal involving Powell and Scott ultimately led to the dismantling of Glynn County police’s drug task force. It also prompted a failed attempt by Georgia lawmakers to abolish the county police department and hand law enforcement in parts of Glynn County outside the city of Brunswick back to the elected county sheriff.

Glynn County commissioners fired Powell in 2021. Scott was fired from his job as police chief of Vidalia, Georgia, a few months later when the second indictment was issued.