Georgia officials get more daring with 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.

They Buried it Next to Jimmy Hoffa: The Tattnall County Board of Education spent taxpayer money on eight school bus cameras, but they did not bother to install those devices, despite paying for installment fees and a five-year subscription for them. 

Instead, school officials placed the equipment in storage. The equipment cost taxpayers $37,973.

This is according to an audit that the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts published in May

Auditors said they could not locate two additional pieces of school equipment that cost $19,387.

I ‘Built this Jail’…Says the Man in Handcuffs: Authorities arrested an Effingham County commissioner last month and charged him with child molestation and misdemeanor sexual battery.

That man, Commissioner Reginald Loper, told officials at the Effingham County Jail that he was a county commissioner for 19 years and “built this jail.”

This is according to WSB-TV.

As previously reported by Channel 2 Action News, the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to investigate allegations of child sexual abuse on Jan. 9, eventually leading to the charges,” according to the station.

The Sixth Amendment and International Jugglers Day: The Georgia Public Defender Council represents 85% of all people charged with crimes in the state. Recent media reports said multiple defendants remain behind bars without legal representation, which violates the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 

The organization has reportedly struggled to hire enough attorneys.

“In an apparent attempt to put a positive spin on the struggling agency, documents obtained through public record requests show the Defender Council has hired two public relations companies,” according to Atlanta News First.

The first public relations firm, Tobin Ink, accepted $4,500 in taxpayer money to provide “Thought Leadership,” “Social Media Strategy” and “On-Call Crisis Communication.”

“Three months later, the Defender Council hired another public relations company, Lucie Content. It’s run by former local TV journalists,” according to Atlanta News First.

“The taxpayer cost to hire Lucie: $24,500. According to its current contract, the media company will provide help with ‘Overall messaging,’ ‘Develop Narrative Opportunities’ and ‘Social Media Support.’”

As Atlanta News First went on to report, since hiring Lucie, the Defender Council has posted on its Facebook page about International Jugglers Day, National Golfers Day and Caramel Popcorn Day.

Of All the Government Agencies to Defraud…the CIA?: A former top-level official with the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) pleaded guilty last month to conspiring to defraud the school and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 

That man, James G. Maloney, was GTRI’s chief scientist, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia. 

Between 2007 through 2013, Maloney and his two co-conspirators — James J. Acree and James D. Fraley, III — worked on projects funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and various intelligence agencies.

“As part of his duties and responsibilities at GTRI, Fraley had access to a Georgia Tech credit card known as a PCard. Fraley was supposed to use his PCard only to purchase materials and supplies for official Georgia Tech business. Neither Fraley nor anyone else was allowed to charge personal expenses on a PCard,” according to U.S. Attorneys.

“Maloney, Acree and Fraley falsely led GTRI to believe that all their PCard charges were for official business. In fact, Maloney, Acree and Fraley charged approximately $200,000 in personal expenses on Fraley’s PCard, including, two four-wheelers and a trailer, two Sony 52-inch flat-screen televisions, Apple computers, iPads, OtterBox protective cases and iPods.”

They spent that money on a variety of other expensive electronic gadgets.

“Maloney and Fraley also used Fraley’s PCard to pay for remodeling and maintenance expenses related to six rental properties they owned together in the name of a Georgia corporation called J’s Services, Inc.,” U.S. Attorneys said.

“Some of the fraudulent PCard charges and some of the remodeling and maintenance expenses for Maloney and Fraley’s rental properties were charged to a classified GTRI contract that was funded by the CIA.”

Acree and Fraley pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud GTRI and the CIA in 2016. 

According to U.S. Attorneys, Maloney’s case took seven years to resolve. Maloney spent those years threatening to reveal classified information in a failed attempt to force the government to dismiss his case. 

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