CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. - A group of former Clayton County corrections officers said they lost their jobs after participating in a co-op to give away food for people in need at the jail.
Channel 2's Tom Jones talked to some of the workers, who said the program collected and distributed food to churches, people in need and jail workers from the jail's parking lot.
Eight workers said they were fired, suspended, demoted or placed on administrative leave after Sheriff Victor Hill saw the co-op in action. The former workers said the sheriff told them the program embarrassed him and that they were soliciting.
Jones talked to three former jail corrections officers who said the co-op started two years ago when a group of jail workers got together and paid $150 a month to get food from the Georgia Food and Resource Center. When they had extra, they wanted to share it with the community.
Gloria Mayo, who was terminated, wanted to know how distributing all the food ended with at least eight employees on the chopping block.
"What's wrong with us getting food?" Mayo said. "Share what you got!"
"We take it home. We give it away to our churches," Triana Collier, who was also fired, said.
- Director, actor and now developer: Tyler Perry to open Atlanta studios with gala
- Warehouse full of plastic gator heads burns in massive fire near I-285
- 8-year-old boy found dead behind NW Georgia home
When someone saw them distributing food in the jail parking lot, an investigator reached out to them. That's when Hill stepped in.
"He said, 'I'm placing you on administrative leave without any pay for participating in the food co-op," Collier said.
"We're in trouble for helping these people," Narris Moss, who was also terminated, said.
Jones reached out to Hill to get his side of the story, but no one called him back.
The workers said it's tough getting another job in law enforcement.
"A lot of agencies won't touch you after you've been terminated," Collier said.
"It's food," Mayo said. "And I thought I was doing a good thing."
The former workers said the sheriff was angry that no one told him about the co-op, but they say that's not enough for their careers to be ruined.
The workers told Jones that Hill rules by fear and will fire people or lock them up if he feels it will keep the next person loyal to him.
Hill hasn't returned Jones' calls or emails in years.
© 2019 Cox Media Group.