Fulton County Commissioner looks for love in all the wrong places (and three other examples of government waste, fraud and abuse)

WRITER’S NOTE: The following is a monthly compilation of alleged or documented stories about waste, fraud or abuse of taxpayer money or taxpayer-funded resources throughout Georgia. Material was gathered using government documents, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s original reporting and/or previously published news articles.

Even More COVID-19 Relief Money Gets Wasted: Officials with the Telfair County Board of Education took nearly $44,000 of COVID-19 relief money and gave it out as a bonus to unspecified people who did not work for the school district. 

This is according to a report that the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts published in January. 

Auditors also faulted the school district for failing to have a purchase order for an unspecified item—which was acquired by spending over $300,000 of COVID relief money.

Beware The Apple Bandit: A Baldwin County Grand Jury has indicted a former Georgia College & State University (GCSU) employee on 16 counts of theft.

As reported last month by the Milledgeville-based Union-Recorder, that former school employee, Irwin Rodregis Reese, worked as a technical support specialist at GCSU.

“Grand jurors contend that while Reese was a state government employee, he stole several MacBook Pro devices. Some of the alleged thefts date back as early as June 15, 2019, according to court records obtained by the newspaper,” The Union-Recorder said. 

“The crimes remained unknown until on or about July 19, 2023, according to the multi-count criminal indictment. Reese also is accused of stealing several Samsung Galaxy tablets. All of the property stolen belonged to GCSU, court records show.” 

An Abuse of Power and a Costly Misdeed: Fulton County taxpayers will pay nearly $1 million to pay off a sexual harassment judgment against County Commissioner Natalie Hall.

This is according to the Atlanta-based WSB-TV, which reported  in January that Hall allegedly fired her former chief of staff “for refusing to have an exclusive, romantic relationship with her.”

A judge found Fulton County liable for sex discrimination but not retaliation, and ordered the county to pay the former chief of staff back pay with interest, front pay, compensatory damages and attorneys’ fees, the station reported.

Commissioners voted not to appeal the judge’s order.

“The 67-page order stems from an August hearing Channel 2 Action News attended in which Brock testified Hall stalked him and even put trackers on his cars,” the station reported.

The former chief of staff sued the county, not Hall personally. 

A Recycling Center that Actually Produces Waste: Members of the FBI are investigating a stalled recycling center in Lamar County. 

As reported last month by FOX5 Atlanta, the Lamar County Regional Solid Waste Management Authority took out a $27.5 million state loan 10 years ago to build a waste-to-fuel project at the landfill. The project is now more than six years past its original completion date. Loan repayments are scheduled to start in April.

“The FOX 5 I-Team has reported that some of the loan money flowed to a top landfill official who promoted the project, with a group of angry taxpayers demanding the county launch an investigation,” according to the station.

“It seems they’ve gotten one, and at a higher level. An FBI spokesperson confirmed that the agency has launched an investigation. That’s music to the ears of a concerned citizens group that’s been raising alarms about the project, which has cost more than $20 million and counting.” 

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