Officials at yet another school district in Georgia can’t do basic arithmetic

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.

Stolen Lunch Money: The Hancock County Board of Education accepted federal dollars as part of the Child Nutrition Cluster (CNC) program and used it to pay the School Food Service director’s salary.

But school district officials made a costly mistake, to the tune of more than $40,000, according to a report the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts published last month.

The cause?

“The former child nutrition director changed to a different position and was not correctly removed from the Child Nutrition Cluster payroll for the year under review,” auditors wrote.

CNC funding was granted to the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. GaDOE distributes the money to local educational agencies (LEAs) and oversees the various CNC programs. CNC funds totaling $987,385.00 were expended and reported on the Hancock County Board of Education’s Schedule of Expenditures of Federal Awards (SEFA) for fiscal year 2022. 

The Sludge Report: A federal contractor who headed the Environmental Services and Public Works Division at the Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB) in Albany was found guilty by a jury last month of making false statements.

That man, Brain J. Wallace, 59, of Leesburg, lied to EPA special agents about whether a hazardous waste was pumped into the local sewer system.

This is according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia. Wallace was found guilty of one count of making a false statement to a federal agency.

There is a production plant at MCLB that disassembles old equipment. This includes stripping paint containing hazardous materials that require proper disposal, per federal law — and rebuilds the equipment. The production plant’s waste is processed by the industrial wastewater treatment plant (IWTP), also located on MCLB-Albany. The IWTP discharges the treated wastewater to the City of Albany, which is permitted to properly handle this waste and does so for other large-scale industries.

“Court evidence showed that approximately 30,000 gallons of liquid layer from the clarifier (a settling tank that separates liquids from solids) was pumped into the City of Albany’s sewer system on May 10, 2021, through a manhole at the MCLB-Albany’s industrial wastewater treatment plant (IWTP) and that the City of Albany was not properly notified, as required by law,” U.S. Attorneys wrote.

“Wallace told EPA investigators that he was unaware of anyone pumping the liquid layer from the clarifier into the sewer system through the IWTP manhole; it was proven in court that he did know and therefore lied to EPA investigators.”

Wallace faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Court officials will schedule a sentencing date.

Co-defendant Horizon Environmental Services, LLC, pleaded guilty to reckless conduct last year and was sentenced to two years of probation.

No hazardous waste made its way into the Flint River.

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