Former Conyers mayoral candidate Olivia Holmes Ware has dropped her civil lawsuit against the city of Conyers, according to a letter filed in Rockdale County Superior Court Monday. But her court dealings may not be at an end, as the Georgia Bureau of Investigations reviews whether criminal charges should be involved.
City Attorney Mike Waldrop said the city's countersuit was effectively ended when Ware dropped her civil case, but that the city had been doing its due diligence in the past several days.
City Manager Tony Lucas confirmed the Georgia Bureau of Investigations is reviewing information from the case.
Waldrop said, "As a result of the concerns that have been expressed by countless citizens that have expressed their outrage at Ms. Ware's activities, we have referred the matter to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations for them to investigate and evaluate whether a crime was committed. If they find a crime was committed they'll forward it to the District Attorney."
Since the city had been involved in the situation, "It seemed more appropriate to take a step back, let an impartial agency take a fresh look at it," to determine whether there were criminal charges to prosecute, said Waldrop.
Waldrop pointed out that even if the city had been able to move forward with its civil case, it would not have been able to recover the $10,000 in attorney's fees from the investigation and hearing presentation.
Ware was disqualified from the race Sept. 25 but also announced in the letter filed Monday that she had withdrawn her candidacy. "I question 1-4 if I would have attended the hearing the outcome would have been in my favor. I never received a Certify copy or US Mail delivery of the hearing until September 23, 2013," she wrote.
"For the reasons set forth herein, I was not aware the representative from the campain did not wait to receive hand delivery notice of hearing after I specifically stated, that the representative would be there, also did not follow up with the voice mail. After much consideration and speaking to the representative. I withdraw my compaint and Candidacy for the office of Mayor and the City of Conyers."
"I humbly apologize for any inconvenience that it nay have cause the City of Conyers." (Editor's note: The quotes were taken as typed in the document.)
The administrative hearing on Ware's qualifications as a mayoral candidate and her conflicting residential addresses was held Sept. 20.
Ware filed a lawsuit Sept. 24 alleging that the city had not properly served her notice on the administrative hearing.
Ware was disqualified as a candidate on Sept. 25.
The city then filed a counter lawsuit alleging that Ware's case was "abusive litigation" that was "made with malice and without substantial justification," according to a letter sent by the city on Sept. 27 that cited state law.
A hearing was set to take place Oct. 2 before Rockdale County Superior Court Judge Robert Mumford, but was canceled.
During the Sept. 20 administrative hearing, the City Elections Supervisor Pat Smith reviewed evidence on various addresses Ware had submitted to the Department of Drivers Services, Newton County tax commissioner and tax assessor for a Homestead Exemption on her property taxes, and to Newton County courts for her divorce proceedings. Providing false information on sworn documents could be charged as a felony in the state.
According to Waldrop, Ware was sent a letter via certified mail about the hearing on Sept. 17 to all three addresses in question - at Peaks Landing in the city, Coal Shovel Trail in Rockdale County and Mt. Zion Road in Newton County. Waldrop said he had also sent a letter Sept. 9 about the issues.
City staff had called and talked with her on Sept. 18, arranging to meet after 12 p.m. at a Gees Mill Road location to deliver the letter. But when the officer went there at 12:45 p.m. to deliver the letter on Sept. 18, no one came to the door. A car that a neighbor identified as belonging to Ware was at the location and a light was on in the building. The neighbor said he had never known the car to be there and Ware not to be there at the same time. Waldrop said the city had called the number where they had reached her previously and left a message with the time and date of the hearing.
A mayoral candidate must be a registered voter in the city and have lived in the city for at least a year.