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Cochran's Mayor Defends Himself On Theft Charge | News

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Cochran's Mayor Defends Himself On Theft Charge

Cochran's mayor on Wednesday defended himself against a charge of stealing over 25 pieces of city-owned plastic pipe.

Clifford Avant says he asked some people to take the pipe to his church after the city's field superintendent said the city had no use for the pipe.

He told 13WMAZ, "I was told it was unusable and worthless. I chose to find a useful purpose for it." He said he saved Cochran the cost of dumping the pipe.

He said he would not comment further, on the advice of his lawyer.

But he said he thinks the charge resulted from a political rift with a city council member, whom he would not identify.

Avant also said his inital reaction to the arrest was surprise. 

"I had officers that were upset they were having to do that and process somebody for something that is, really, I mean in my opinion ridiculous, that it's come to this," he said.

He also said the pipe had been used for water lines in the city but was too old and no longer strong enough. Avant says the church was going to use the pipe to drain the softball fields.

Avant was arrested Tuesday and charged with theft by taking in a dispute over 25 pieces of plastic pipe.

Assistant Police Chief Key McGuire said the mayor turned himself in around 1 p.m. Tuesday and was later bailed out of the Bleckley County jail.

McGuire said Avant allegedly authorized some people, including an off-duty city employee, to take the stack of city-owned pipes from the side of a road near the city sewage-treatment plant.

The pipes were allegedly delivered to Avant's church, House of Grace in Bleckley County, just outside the Cochran city limits.

"It was sitting there and not being used, and he thought he could just donate it to the church," said McGuire. "He thought it would just sit there rotting. Maybe it would, but it was not his to give."

The assistant chief said police began investigating after a complaint from a city council member, whom he would not identify.

The pipe - 20-foot, 8-inch plastic PVC pipe used for water projects - is valued at $100 apiece, for a total value of $2,500, McGuire said.





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