THOMASVILLE — A strategic decision led to mediation and settlement of a lawsuit filed in 2018 on behalf of two City of Thomasville employees accused of wrongdoings.

Robert D. Howell, the Moultrie lawyer representing the employees, said that if Greg Hobbs, Thomasville's suspended mayor, is convicted of criminal charges in a scheduled upcoming trial, the city's insurance company would have no obligation to pay anything in a civil judgment against Hobbs.

Kha McDonald, city human resources director and 2018 interim city manager, and Vicky Bryson, administrative executive assistant to the city manager, were accused of forging the mayor's signature on payroll documents in June 2018.

The settlement calls for a total of $50,000 to be paid to the women.

The settlement includes attorney fees and a statement from the city that exonerates the plaintiffs from forging any city documents.

The statement:

"The City of Thomasville would like to state that it has no evidence that Kha McDonald and Vicky Bryson engaged in forging any documents at any time. Further, the city appreciates the years of service which Mrs. McDonald and Mrs. Bryson have given to the City of Thomasville and we look forward to their continued service in the future."

"Essentially, what Kay and Vicki wanted the entire time was to be exonerated and to clear their good names and let it be known they were innocent of any accusation," Howell said. "I think we were 100 percent successful."

The women's lawsuit was filed against Hobbs individually and in his capacity as mayor.

Hobbs was indicted on six city-related criminal counts in February. The counts involve the forgery accusations.

Gov. Brian Kemp suspended Hobbs from city council in March.

The trial on the charges is set for July 29. If the case is not disposed of before October, Hobbs will be allowed to return to the council, with the charges pending.

He will not be able to retain his council seat if convicted of a felony.

There was clear intent to remove McDonald as interim city manager, said Howell, adding that he thinks the accusations were made when McDonald fought back to keep her job.

"We have faith in the criminal justice system and that it will take care of disposing of the criminal charges against (Greg) Hobbs in due course," Howell said. 

Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820