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Fayette Commission to decide on Horgan ethics penalty for pot smoking

The Fayette County Board of Commissioners is expected to rule on a potential penalty for Commissioner Robert Horgan, who was deemed by an independent panel to have violated the county’s ethics policy because of his May 2009 arrest for misdemeanor possession of marijuana and driving with an expired tag.

Horgan faces up to a $1,000 penalty per violation, and the panel of three attorneys deemed that Horgan violated the ethics ordinance on two occasions. Horgan may also be publicly censured by the commission as well.

Peachtree City resident Robert Ross, who has asked Horgan to resign multiple times, recently asked the commission to fine Horgan $750 for each violation. The ethics complaint was filed by county residents David Cree and Pat Hinchey.

Horgan challenged the ethics panel’s ruling in Fayette County Superior Court but the ruling was upheld last month by visiting Superior Court Judge E. Byron Smith, who found that “the conduct of said commissioner violates said ordinance, in particular, not acting in the best interests of the citizens of Fayette County.”

Horgan has already pled guilty to misdemeanor marijuana possession and driving with an expired tag, charges filed after he was pulled over May 23, 2009 on Stanley Road in his pickup truck by a sheriff’s deputy who spotted the expired tag. Horgan was arrested on the charges and booked into the Fayette County Jail before he bonded out, officials have said.

Just over a year ago Horgan pled no contest to the misdemeanor marijuana and expired tag charges. He was sentenced to an $800 fine, 12 months probation and 40 hours of community service by then-Fayette County State Court Judge Fletcher Sams.

Sams also ordered Horgan to avoid any drug or alcohol use for which he will be tested during the probation period. He must also submit to a drug and alcohol evaluation and follow any recommended course of treatment if any along with attending a session of the county’s new drug court.

Horgan later violated the terms of his probation by testing positive for alcohol and he was subsequently ordered to an additional 20 days of community service and attendance at 30 Alcoholic Anonymous meetings in a 30-day time period.

Horgan has resisted numerous calls for his resignation, including one several weeks after his arrest by fellow county Commissioner Eric Maxwell. Horgan also survived a recall challenge when a Superior Court judge in LaGrange ruled in August 2009 that Horgan’s infractions occurred when he was not on official county duty.

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