29 November 2016

[tpc] - The Forensic Audit of Newton Co. has been released

The Piedmont Chronicles   
~ est. 2010 ~
[State of GA]
[Newton Co.]

(11.29.16) - At approx. 7:30 last evening, Newton Co.'s attorney, Jarrard & Davis, released a partially redacted copy of the forensic audit performed by David Sawyer, CPA, of the firm Frazier and Deeter to several who had filed ORR's. By doing this, they stayed within the ten business day period to make this public as prescribed by state law. 

It's a 115 page document that is very encompassing and thorough. I spent over 2 hours reading this document last night a couple of times, and reading certain parts multiple times and taking notes. I'm still planning to release a full synopsis in the next day or two but did want to mention a few points right now. The following deal with Wm Thomas Craig and the Bear Creek project: 

  • a good portion of the report can only be described as a total and absolute evisceration of the practices of Wm Thomas Craig, especially as it relates to his handling of the Bear Creek project. It was really nothing short of damning and, in a clear, concise & logical manner, makes the case for financial damages to the home county in excess of $25 million. 
  • Sawyer makes major note of a fact that many  have expressed concerns about for years - the inherent conflict of interest that Craig has had for years as acting as both county attorney and a water consultant. 
  • The most impressive part of Sawyer's report is how he chronicled the exact timeline of the project going back to its inception and showing how Craig seemed to be incompetent, at best, or possibly dealing in bad faith and/or malicious intent, at worst. By researching news articles and pairing Craig's own words with the correspondence of Craig with organizations like U.S. Fish & Wildlife, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and other entities, a very clear case was made. 
  • Also, during the life of this project, it seemed that Newton Co. always would greatly overpay for real estate purchases. Major concerns were made about the inherent conflict of interest of Craig acting as agent and negotiator on these transactions. 
  • Some of the specifics and particulars are just jaw-dropping and mind-blowing. More to come on that later in the days ahead. 
The report is also pretty rough on JC Henderson. Major concerns in the report with the running of the Nelson Heights center. Concerns of mismanagement, improper accounting practices, questionable expenditures, etc. In his report, Sawyers believes that financial damages to the county in the amount of approx. $43,000 occurred  because of this.

Another major concern was the fact that Sawyer all but proved that Newton County has been systematically mismanaging and commingling SPLOST and Impact Fee funds.

Major, major issues were also brought up as well about the landfill and the convenience centers as it seems as if large portions of money were being paid to consulting firms with ties to Wm Thomas Craig - Eco South, LLC and Eco-Tech. Also, the fact that the county has been paying an insanely large amount of money to Harbin engineering to basically run our landfill. Perhaps this is why we've had such a drain in the budget with this? And concerns raised about the running of the convenience centers by Junior Hilliard as well.


I had heard some anonymous sources over the last couple of weeks who had spoken to two different folks who'd seen the report. They said neither would say a word really other than to say that it was bad. Well, folks, that's the truth. It's bad! Real bad.

As mentioned, we'll try to get a full synopsis up in the next day or two.

Several of these issues, and other issues not covered in the this audit, really need to be investigated more. The Chronicles would hope that a law enforcement agency will take this up to investigate. In our estimation, it needs to be done.

But, and I truly believe this, all of this is going to look like tinker toys compared to the results of a forensic audit of the Joint Development Authority and the Stanton Springs project. The four counties should come together to do this without delay.