Mayor Keith Crawford announced in a written statement, following a called council meeting last Friday morning, that beginning Monday, “All accounting procedures will be outsourced to a GMA (Georgia Municipal Association) highly recommended accounting firm on a temporary basis.”
Crawford said the city will have procedures in place to “meet accounts payable and payroll in a timely manner.”
“City council, along with city administration, will have an opportunity to evaluate our financial progress within 30 days for a long-term accounting solution,” Crawford said.
The mayor said the latest probe started Sept. 10 after City Clerk Stacy Folds “notified city administration of misappropriated funds.”
“City administration immediately notified City Police Chief [Mark Brock] and on the same day, the case was turned over to Georgia Bureau of Investigation,” Crawford said in his released statement. “The GBI is now in full control of this case and, due to this investigation, the city can no longer comment on this matter.”
Crawford said city employee Susan Pierce has been appointed by the city council as interim city clerk.
In the earlier Bowdon case, Patricia Bentley, a former employee of the city of Bowdon clerk’s office, was charged Aug. 1 with felony theft by taking. This came after a GBI investigation, which began June 20, found $159,000 in city funds that were taken in but never deposited into city accounts.
Wayne Smith, a special agent in the GBI’s Columbus office, said Tuesday that the funding source in question in the current case is different from the earlier case.
“The other case involved funds in the general operating account, while the current case involves a separate account to process fines and court-levied fees," Smith said. He estimated the current missing funds at $20,000 to $30,000.
He said the GBI is in the process of auditing the account to confirm exactly how much money is missing and no arrests have been made yet. He said agents are still investigating to see if there is any connection between the two alleged misappropriations.
“With recommendations from our independent auditor, this city council has been diligently pursuing financial accountability since January 2012,” Crawford said in his statement. “These efforts have uncovered financial deficiencies within the city that are now in the process of being corrected. We will continue to monitor the city financials closely and provide detailed and accurate reporting at each of our future council meetings.”