Some Georgia officials hide documents, steal taxpayer money and can’t do basic math

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.

DeKalb County School Administrators Can’t Do Arithmetic: One DeKalb County Board of Education employee received a $10,000 doctoral degree supplement for an executive position, even though that employee did not hold a doctoral degree.

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

Auditors also discovered that seven school district employees accrued more than the maximum allowed 320 hours of vacation leave at the end of the year. 

Exactly 214 employees had negative accrued hours because they were allowed to use more hours than they had earned. Meanwhile, nine employees were overpaid a total of $15,845.76 for accruing more than the maximum allowed 400 hours of vacation leave. 

Taxation Really is Theft: A former clerk at the Spalding County Tax Commissioner’s Office has been arrested on theft charges after she allegedly took other people’s hard-earned tax money and used it on herself. 

Authorities charged that former clerk, Alteria Williams, with theft by taking and two counts of computer forgery, according to the Atlanta-based WSB Radio. 

“They [authorities] say a man reported paying his taxes in cash at the tax commissioner’s office in mid-May but received a notice he had not paid. When he returned a few weeks later to pay more taxes, he still did not receive a receipt,” the station reported. 

“The next day, he went back to the office and asked for receipts of both transactions. The clerk, Williams, told him she hadn’t given him a receipt before because her printer was broken. That day, she gave him a fake receipt for the transactions.” 

Not Even the Janitors Can Clean Up this Mess: Members of the Appling County Board of Education accepted but then misused nearly $105,000 from federal taxpayers via the American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund program.

This is according to the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts (DOAA).

“Testing revealed that payments were made to a janitorial company and a staffing services company utilized by the School District to provide ‘retention’ bonuses to contractors who were not employees of the School District. These individuals were assigned to work within the School District by the private companies,” auditors wrote

“Per review of the contracts in place during the fiscal year under review, it was noted that these bonuses represented amounts in excess of the agreed upon price. Furthermore, the School District does not have the authority or ability to retain these individuals as they were not employees of the School District, and contract provisions requiring the individuals to remain employed by the companies and in the service of the School District for a stated period of time were not reflected within the associated contract.” 

You’ll Never Outsmart the FBI’s Forensics Team: A former Augusta city commissioner was recently sentenced to prison after previously being found guilty of destroying records in a federal investigation and then lying about it.

Sammie Lee Sias, the former District 4 Augusta Commissioner, was sentenced to 36 months in prison last month after being found guilty in July 2022. 

This is according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia. 

In 2019 the FBI and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation scrutinized then-Commissioner Sias’ role in expenditures of Richmond County Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds. 

An FBI special agent served Sandridge Community Association (SCA) and Sias, who was the SCA president, with federal subpoenas for records regarding the SCA, Jamestown Community Center, Jamestown Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), SCA Board of Directors and SCA Summer Camp. 

The SCA is a private organization that operates the Richmond County government-owned Jamestown Community Center. Sias served for several years as its leader.

“Within hours of the agent’s visit, Sias deleted approximately 7,000 relevant files from a laptop in his possession that belonged to the Jamestown Community Center. Shortly thereafter, during a recorded interview with an FBI agent, Sias falsely stated that he told the agent that he had provided all files in his possession related to the investigation.” 

A forensic examination later found evidence of those missing files on the laptop. 

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