Two-term District 4 Augusta Commissioner Alvin Mason was arrested Tuesday on a domestic violence charge.
Based on a Friday incident report filed by Mason's wife, Richmond County sheriff's deputies swore out a warrant for his arrest for battery, but Mason was allowed to turn himself in Tuesday and post a $1,200 cash bond immediately and spent no time in jail.
The report says Mason, 49, “grabbed the victim by the throat and pushed her against the wall” around 10 p.m. Friday, then left the couple’s house on Frank Warren Drive in Hephzibah.
Deputies saw redness and a small cut on Velma Mason's neck, says the report, which names the primary aggressor as Elvin Dwayne Mason, rather than Alvin Duane Mason. The report states there were no children present and there was no evidence of substance abuse.
Mason did not return phone calls requesting comment. He told WRDW-TV the situation was “regrettable” and that his “legal team is handling it.”
Chief State Court Judge Richard Slaby said he set Mason's bond before he turned himself in because Velma Mason signed a statement indicating she wanted to continue to have contact with her husband, and that there were no prior allegations of violent contact.
Typically in domestic violence cases, the accused aggressor is required to make a court appearance before being granted a bond. Often accompanying the bond is a court order prohibiting contact between the suspect and accuser.
The commissioner married Velma Mason in December 2009, after his divorce earlier that year from Tonia Mason, who is now the principal of Lucy C. Laney High School.
In a 2010 interview, the former mayor pro tem said he had known Velma Mason since his years in the Army.
Both are retired military, and Alvin Mason works as a federal employee in Fort Gordon's contract office. At the time, Mason said he had four grown children and three grandchildren.
During the same interview, Mason acknowledged serious political ambitions. A run for mayor, possible when Mayor Deke Copenhaver's second full term runs out in 2014, would require Mason's resignation from his full-time job. The Hatch Act precludes his run for a partisan state office such as legislator, another title he's considered, while employed by the federal government.
This year, Mason and Commissioner Bill Lockett have led the charge against the city's adoption of a new personnel manual and City Administrator Fred Russell's reorganization of several city departments. Mason is the commissioner who first called for Russell to resign or be fired when it came to the commission's attention that Russell had awarded raises to 44 employees whose titles changed under the reorganization plan.
Though he's often clashed with several of them, Mason's commissioner colleagues were reluctant to comment on the arrest.
Commissioner Jerry Brigham called the arrest "unfortunate."
Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles said he wanted to be sure all the facts were known before making a judgment.
"I'm just glad I don't need a legal team," Bowles quipped.
Most recently, Brigham and Commissioner Grady Smith's decision to withdraw their support for a new district map they had supported while serving on the ad hoc redistricting committee angered Mason, who chaired the committee. He called the pair "hypocrites.”
Despite occasional disagreements with Mason, who sits beside him at the dais, Smith said he wants to know the facts first.
"My concern would be hopefully they can work it out and remain a family unit," Smith said.
Commissioner Corey Johnson said he wishes Mason the best.
"It's a personal matter between him and his family, and they'll have to get through it," Johnson said. "It's the same as in life. Marriage is the art of compromise."