Jim Gay pleads no contest

Charged in disruption of City Council meeting
Jan. 17, 2013 @ 12:25 PM

A Chair City man charged with disrupting a city council meeting and resisting arrest pleaded no contest in Thomasville District Court on Wednesday.
Jim Gay, 61, of 804 Valley Road, received a 30-day suspended sentence and was placed on 18 months of unsupervised probation after pleading no contest to disrupting a public meeting, resisting and obstructing a police officer and making harassing phone calls, according to the Davidson County Clerk of Courts Office.
Gay also must abide to designated terms as part of the plea agreement.  Judge Wayne Michael consolidated the charges under one judgement.
Thomasville Police Department charged Gay following a April 9, 2012, city council meeting that ended with officers forcefully escorting him from council chambers. Gay was on probation at the time after reaching an agreement with the Davidson County District Attorney's Office for a criminal complaint filed by Mayor Joe Bennett a year earlier. In April, 2011, Gay was placed on unsupervised probation for 12 months after being charged with making harassing phone calls to Bennett at his home. Gay violated his probation following the altercation last April by confronting Bennett at the meeting. Gay appeared before council to dispute a city ordinance citation involving debris on his property. While addressing the council, Gay became adamant and would not leave the podium after repeated requests from the mayor to do so. Two TPD officers intervened and video footage shows them dragging an irate Gay out of the council chambers.
Wednesday's plea agreement states that Gay is not allowed to attend any city council meetings or be at City Hall or other administrative offices with alcohol in his system. He cannot disrupt or disturb any council or committee meetings, and is prohibited from calling any city official or employee to harass or intimidate. Gay must give a 24-hour notice before visiting City Hall to allow for any needed security measures and is required to conduct routine city business via mail.
After learning of Judge Michael's decision Wednesday night, Councilman Raleigh York said he's glad a difficult situation is resolved and encourages all citizens to attend council meetings and express their opinion. 
"I'm all for people having the right to speak and saying anything they would like in the proper manner," York said. "I would never do anything to hamper anyone's right to speak and to let us know how they feel about some decision we make. Just do it in a civil manner." 

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or duke@tvilletimes.com.