Henry County

‘I was not a pimp.’ Man with criminal past is now running to be metro sheriff – and it’s all legal

HENRY COUNTY, Ga. — A man who would like to become the top cop in Henry County has had a history of law-enforcement run-ins himself.

A Channel 2 Action News investigation found Cornell “CJ” Madison was arrested multiple times. But despite currently being on probation, he is still allowed to run for sheriff.

When you look at Madison, you will see some things you expect from a man running for sheriff—years in law enforcement, drug busts and some glowing reviews.

His campaign is focused on transparency and trying to reform violence in the Henry County Jail.

But Channel 2′s Michael Doudna also learned that you will find issues with past arrests related to allegedly trying to hire an undercover cop to be his prostitute and an arrest for a DUI while he was with a stripper.

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State law says he is following the law and able to run for office.

Channel 2 Action News obtained video of the 2019 DUI arrest that was part of his termination from the city of South Fulton Police Department.

Months later he was rehired in Butts County.

Now he said he’s learned from his mistakes and is ready to lead as Henry County’s Sheriff.

“I will say this much, the state of Georgia says I can be a police officer, I can be a chief of police, I can be a Marine defending our constitution. We all make dumb mistakes under dumb situations,” Madison said.

But the arrest that was caught on camera is just one incident. In 2007, he was arrested in Las Vegas after an undercover cop said Madison claimed to be a pimp and tried to hire her as his prostitute.

“No, I was not a pimp,” Madison said.

Documents show Madison asked the undercover cop to earn $1,500 a night and pay him $1,300 while giving her tips on how to not get caught by police.

Madison provided documentation that the case has since been sealed.

Channel 2 Action News was not able to independently confirm if that is the case.


“I’m not at liberty to speak about that because I’m following the judge’s orders,” Madison told Doudna when asked about the incident.

Despite the charge on his record, Madison was allowed to become a Georgia law enforcement officer.

“People make mistakes, people are human and they can give them a chance to show they changed,” Georgia’s Peace Officers and Training Council Deputy Director Chris Harvey said.

POST approved Madison’s certification under the condition he was on probation.

Years later, Madison would have another run-in with the law.

In 2019, College Park officers found Madison after he hit three cars, slurring words.

“I smell alcohol, so how much did you think you had to drink tonight?” the arresting officer asked Madison on body camera from the incident.

“I had two drinks,” Madison said.

Madison was also with a woman who was not his wife.

“Yeah, she was a stripper, I’m not going to lie, she was a stripper,” Madison admitted to Doudna.

Madison said he was not drunk that night despite what the video shows.

“I’ve seen the video, I know I was hit with an airbag. I know I made some crazy statements, I was nervous. I know I was with people I should not have been with. I know the people I was with were drunk. I know the vehicle smelled like alcohol, but was I physically drunk? No,” Madison said.

Police initially charged Madison with DUI, but records show the charge was dismissed as part of a plea deal.

“If the court says I’m cleared of it, I’m cleared of it,” Madison said.

The South Fulton Police Department eventually fired Madison. After his firing the POST put Madison on probation for four years in 2022.

Madison was rehired in Butts County before eventually becoming assistant police chief in the town of Molena.

Although he is on probation for another year, Georgia law does not stop Madison or anyone else from running for sheriff.

“My understanding of Georgia law is that is not a hindrance, that’s not a disqualification. So, that’s his decision, and that’s the decision of the voters,” Harvey said.

Madison agreed to sit down with Doudna in the name of transparency because he has been asked about it on the campaign trail.


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