Sheriff fires 4 deputies after investigating Nuwaubian link

Athens, USA - An investigation into whether five deputies violated jail policy because of their connection to the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors religious sect has resulted in the firing of four deputies and the resignation of a fifth, Clarke County Sheriff Ira Edwards said.

"The investigation revealed varied policy violations which undermined the safety and security of the jail," Edwards said.

Edwards would not say who the deputies were or specify what policies were violated.

But an Aug. 17 report by the sheriff's Internal Investigations Unit identified the deputies as Cpl. Anthony Montgomery and deputies Rena Jennings, Leon Adams, William York and Bobby Nixon.

The report, which was obtained by the Athens Banner-Herald through a state Open Records Act request, said some of the deputies encouraged "inmates to rebel against white deputies" and "not to give black officers problems."

The report said inmates who embraced Nuwaubian beliefs were given preferential treatment by the jailers who shared those beliefs.

Edwards' investigation included investigating claims that the deputies recruited prisoners into the sect. The sheriff's office looked into claims that at least one deputy stayed in touch with Dwight "Malachi" York, the leader of the predominantly black sect who is currently serving a 135-year federal prison sentence.

The five deputies were placed on administrative leave in July. Two other deputies resigned after former jail commander Brett Hart, started to investigate Nuwaubian activities.

Hart and other jailers said they thought Nuwaubian activities undermined safety at the jail and some white deputies worried that black colleagues might take the side of a black prisoner if a fight broke out along racial lines.

The internal report supported Hart's concerns.

"Certain deputies who hold the Nuwaubian beliefs have become upset when inmates make fun of Nuwaubiansa and Malachi York, which causes a disruption in their ability to supervise and control inmates," the report said. "Deputies are expressing serious concern that something is going to happen and they will not have proper or prompt backup. This is a real concern of deputies that are working now and the deputies that have left. This environment is having a high impact on morale and retention."

Hart started an internal investigation in March when the U.S. Bureau of Prisons informed him the federal maximum security prison in Colorado had intercepted a letter from a Clarke County deputy to York.

York was sentenced in April 2004 for molesting 14 boys and girls whose parents were members of his group. York founded the religious sect in New York in the late 1960s and moved it to rural Putnam County in 1993.