On Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024, Superior Court Judge Richard L. Perryman III sentenced Earl Jackson, 78, to 12 months’ probation after Jackson pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft by taking as a lesser included offense, court records state.
Jackson agreed as a condition of probation to immediately resign as Mayor of the City of Sparks, and, as a condition of the plea agreement, to not run for public office again. A notarized statement to that effect was filed in the Clerk of Superior Court’s Office. A copy of the statement shall be sent to the City of Sparks and the Georgia Attorney General’s Office.
Jackson also agreed to pay $250 in restitution to the City of Sparks and a $45 administration fee.
Alapaha Judicial Circuit District Attorney Chase Studstill prosecuted the case. Defense attorney B. Miles Hannan of Valdosta represented Jackson.
Jackson and former Sparks Public Works Superintendent Antoyo Travett “Buck” Tucker, now 43, were arrested Oct. 12, 2022, and each was charged with felony theft by conversion and felony theft by taking (two counts), according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).
On Sept. 22, 2022, the GBI Douglas Regional Office was requested by the Alapaha Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office to conduct a theft investigation.
Both Jackson and Tucker, while working for the City of Sparks as Mayor and Superintendent respectively, used city funds to purchase items for personal use, according to the GBI.
On July 12, 2023, the Cook County Grand Jury returned a true bill of indictment against Jackson and Tucker. Each was indicted on two counts of felony theft by taking and one count of felony theft by conversion.
On July 31, 2023, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued an executive order appointing a review commission to determine whether Earl Jackson should be suspended from the office of Sparks Mayor. In the order, Gov. Kemp appointed Attorney General Chris Carr, Mayor Jason Weaver of Screven, and Mayor Travis Wimbush of Blakely to the review commission.
On Aug. 11, 2023, Gov. Kemp suspended Jackson from office as Mayor of the City of Sparks.
According to the indictment, on Aug. 5, 2022, Jackson took City of Sparks funds with a value of $1,500 or less. Jackson pleaded guilty to Count 1 of the indictment; the State reduced the felony theft by taking count to a misdemeanor. The State nolle prossed, or dropped, Count 2, felony theft by taking, and Count 3, felony theft by conversion.
The case against Antoyo Tucker is still pending in Cook County Superior Court. According to the theft by taking counts against Tucker, on Sept. 7, 2022, he took City of Sparks funds with a value of $1,500 or less. According to warrants taken by the GBI, Tucker illegally converted City of Sparks funds for his own use and unlawfully appropriated the funds to purchase a set of tires to be placed on his personal vehicle. The alleged offenses were in violation of Official Code of Georgia 16-8-2.
Tucker has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He is being represented by defense attorney Joseph David Weathers of Moultrie.