Coleman was indicted by a Cobb grand jury on one count of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and three counts of making a false statement following an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. He is accused of prevailing on the Rev. Joseph Comeaux of Marietta Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church to write letters on behalf of Coleman’s close friend Terry Mays Jones falsely saying she had completed community service hours. Jones had been arrested on DUI and hit-and-run charges in September 2012 and was sentenced to perform 100 hours of community service.
Jones was indicted Thursday on the same four counts as Coleman. Bond was set at $100,000 each. Coleman and Jones could face prison sentences of five to 20 years if found guilty.
COLEMAN is presumed innocent until proven otherwise and is not prohibited from serving as a councilman, according to Mayor Steve Tumlin. The obvious parallel is just up the road in Kennesaw, where Councilman Leonard Church has continued to serve despite his recent arrest on child molestation charges.
COLEMAN is no stranger to controversy. Many, in fact, expected his career to come to a premature end after he was accused by then-Councilwoman Annette Lewis of hitting her after a 2011 committee meeting. That case was investigated by the GBI as well and culminated with him pleading guilty in State Court to an assault charge. Coleman was handed a sentence of 12 months’ probation, 80 hours of community service, a $60 fine and was required to undergo an anger and violence evaluation, plus pay court costs.
He came in for plenty of criticism in spring 2013 after he was a no-show at a crucial meeting at which the council voted on how to divvy up the proceeds from the $68 million Franklin Road bond, and then after he missed a vote on the Lawrence Street Recreation Center renovation because he had left the council chamber to answer “a call of nature.”
But Coleman, a part-time minister at Vision for Souls Family Worship Center in Mableton, ignored the negative publicity and was easily elected to a fourth term on council last year. He had only one challenger, a distributor for a toilet-bowl cleaner. As one city politico put it at the time, “The only person in town who couldn’t beat Anthony was the only one who signed up to run against him.”
THOSE with long memories also recall that not long after his initial election to council in 2001 Coleman got into a confrontation with a Marietta cop after being pulled over near the Cole/Avery street intersection for “improper stopping in the roadway.” According to then-Police Chief Bobby Moody, Coleman had been driving slowly through an area known for drug activity.
The transcript of the videotaped incident showed that Coleman’s first words to the officer upon exiting his truck were “I’m Reverend Coleman, Marietta City Councilman.” His last words on the tape were a warning to the officer that he would see him “Monday morning in the chief’s office (unintelligible) and the city manager’s office,” to which the officer replied “Absolutely.”
Coleman later pleaded guilty to the ticket and paid the accompanying fine.
COLEMAN’S friend Jones formerly lived on Church Street and two years ago told Around Town she was considering a run for city council herself. Nor has she given up such aspirations.
After failing to complete the community service portion of her probated sentence on the DUI charges, she was ordered to spend 70 days in the Cobb jail, where she was visited by Coleman. All phone conversations and visits between jail residents and outsiders are recorded with the knowledge of all parties. And according to well-informed scuttlebutt shared with AT, during one such visit by Coleman with Jones, she talked about wanting to run this year against northwest Cobb Commissioner Helen Goreham.
COLEMAN’S case has been assigned to Superior Court Judge Tain Kell.
A couple of those with whom AT has talked said that if Coleman could survive pleading guilty to hitting a female councilwoman, “he can survive anything.”
Yet said one Marietta Square wag, “I don’t think he’s getting out of this one. But if he does, I’m joining his church!”
POLITICS: Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus will headline a press conference at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at Cobb GOP headquarters at 799 Roswell St., reports Cobb GOP head Joe Dendy. GOP Senatorial nominee David Perdue will also be on hand. ... Sheriff Neil Warren will be guest speaker at Tuesday’s meeting of the Cobb Regional Republican Women. His topic? “Immigration: How the Crisis at the Border Affects Cobb and Surrounding Counties.” The meeting will take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Cobb GOP headquarters. There is a $5 admission fee. For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
COBB NAACP President Deane Bonner says her group will be forwarding a financial contribution to the family of Michael Brown, the 18 year old whose death under disputed circumstances this week in Ferguson, Mo., set off several nights of disturbances.
“Michael Brown was preparing to begin college, and now his family is preparing to bury their child, his life cut short in a tragic encounter with the police,” she said. “It is a reminder of our country’s ineffective and unjust system of policing. Even as we call for accountability, we call on the community to act collectively and calmly until we secure justice for his family.”
ROASTED: The Earl Smith Strand Theatre will host a celebrity cook-off Sept. 7 to benefit the Chattahoochee Tech Foundation and The Strand. Guests will be greeted with hors d’oeuvres prepared by Tech culinary program students, then watch the competition unfold on the Strand stage.
There will be four two-person teams, each consisting of a “chef” and “sous chef”: Mayor Tumlin and S.A. White Oil Co. President Kim Gresh; Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee with Georgia Department of Transportation special projects director Elaine Armster; Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens with Lockheed Martin VP Shan Cooper; and Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon with Cobb DOT Director Faye DiMassimo.
Johnnie Gabriel, of Gabriel’s bakery and restaurant, will host the event and judge the finished dishes with the help of two randomly selected audience members, says Strand GM Cassie Costoulas.
Tickets are $45. For more, go to www.earlsmithstrand.org.
PURRING ALONG: More than 1,700 patrons saw last weekend’s Lyric Theatre production of “Cats” at the Jennie T. Anderson Theatre, reports managing artistic director Brandt Blocker. That was enough to peg it as the biggest opening weekend in The Lyric’s 35-year history, he added. The show runs through Aug. 24.
SMYRNA’S longest-serving restaurant, the legendary Howard’s on Concord Road, is calling it quits after tonight.
“My wife (Sandy) and I have been thinking about retirement and we finally decided it was time to do it,” owner Bobby Martin told Around Town this week.
The restaurant — best known for its Reubens, ribs and as a hangout for politicos such as Mayor Max Bacon — was opened as a deli by Martin’s father, Howard Martin, on Pat Mell Road in 1964. It moved to the old Cobb Center Mall in 1986, then to its present location in 1991.
“In ‘64 there were very few restaurants here that sold beer,” Martin said. “My dad wanted a place where a family could eat and the parents could have a beer and be in a nice comfortable environment. We’ve tried to keep that.”
Martin and Bacon go way back together.
“I’ve known Max so long that I think we’re in each other’s baby books,” he said. Bacon’s father, Arthur, preceded him as mayor and died in office.
“I joke that my dad died and left me a restaurant, and Max’s dad died and left him a city,” Martin said.