School boards, law enforcement and Georgia Public Broadcasting all lost money

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: The Brooks County Board of Education wasted nearly $160,000 of CARES Act funding on non-allowable expenditures, according to a new audit that the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts published in December

According to that report, exactly $85,861 of school district expenditures were unallowable because they were spent after the period of performance and also because school district personnel did not maintain adequate documentation. 

Additionally eight employees each received a $2,000 bonus (a total of $16,000), even though the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) did not approve that spending. Auditors also questioned exactly $56,204 in the district’s personal services expenditures. 

And….repeat: The Ben Hill County Board of Education spent nearly $350,000 of COVID-19 relief money on 12 pieces of equipment that were not allowed, according to an audit published last month. Seven additional pieces of equipment costing nearly $160,000 were not approved by the GaDOE through the Consolidated Application Process.

Remember This the Next Time You Get a Speeding Ticket: Members of the Jonesboro Police Department mailed out hundreds of school zone speeding tickets that were based on the incorrect speed limit.

This is according to an investigation that FOX 5 Atlanta published in December. City officials performed a full audit of their camera systems and found additional citations that were erroneously issued.          

“The police department said it found 1,244 citations that require a refund or dismissal. The statement did not say how many drivers that represent[s], as many people likely received more than one ticket,” the station reported.

“Under Georgia law, drivers caught speeding on camera in school zones pay a $75 fine for the first violation and $125 for every violation after that. The city said it will be refunding a total of $76,400.”

Haralson County and Crooked Law Enforcement Officers: Former Haralson County Sheriff’s Office employee Jada Lee Pike allegedly embezzled a significant sum of money from an inmate account during a two-year period.

This is according to FOX 5 Atlanta, which did not specify how much money Pike allegedly stole.

Sheriff Stacy Williams told the station that since he’s taken office, he’s fired multiple employees. Several of them have faced criminal prosecution. 

The Haralson County Grand Jury indicted Pike last month on charges of violation of office and theft by taking. 

Does Georgia Need to Bring in Count von Count?: The Georgia Public Telecommunications Commission (GPTC), which does business as Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB), still cannot locate some of its most expensive missing equipment. 

This is according to a report that the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts published in December regarding a review of GPTC capital assets. 

“A test of all 30 individually significant items with values totaling $20,328,886 for fully depreciated other property and equipment revealed that one item with a value of $633,612 could not be located resulting in a likely overstatement of other property and equipment and accumulated depreciation,” auditors wrote. 

The audit did not identify the missing item. 

“For the remaining population [of capital assets], a sample of 31 fully depreciated other property and equipment items revealed that 14 items could not be located resulting in a $620,965 likely overstatement of other property and equipment and accumulated depreciation.”

Auditors faulted GPTC for not complying with the State Accounting Office’s (SAO) policy manual. 

As reported, state auditors scolded GPTC staff one year ago for not properly managing their capital assets. 

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