Investigators called DeKalb County Government, “Rotten to the Core”

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Investigators called DeKalb County Government, “Rotten to the Core”

Special Investigators, former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers and Richard Hyde, called DeKalb County Government “rotten to the Core”. The investigators were appointed by county Interim CEO Lee May in March 2015 to identify any conflict of interest, corruption or malfeasance and make specific recommendations in an effort to improve county operations, restore our image and the public’s trust in county government.

In June 2015, ICEO Lee May suspended use of county-issued VISA purchasing cards (P-cards) for most of the current users due to preliminary findings from special investigators, Bowers and Hyde. According to an article in, ICEO May received a preliminary summary by the investigators outlining examples of dubious expenses charges to the county with no apparent direct benefit to county government and/or with no justification or explanation given. Some of the examples as follows:

• Improper use of tax exempt status;
• Purchases of unauthorized items, as outlined in the current policy;
• Splitting purchases to circumvent the county’s $1,000 per transaction limit;
• International airline tickets;
• Dance lessons;
• Personal membership dues paid to various non-mandatory bar associations and other private organizations;
• Self-aggrandizing “donations” made to non-profits and charities;
• Purchases of unauthorized computers and related items.

On August 5th, Bowers and Hyde delivered an investigative update to ICEO Lee May and the DeKalb Board of Commissioners. In the letter, Investigators say they conducted scores of interviews and looked at several hundred thousand documents, including over 40 thousand individual P-card transactions. They stated the extent of P-Card abuse and misuse is astounding. The Special Investigators made note of several improper expenditures which include:

• Employees spent public funds on a cruise to the Bahamas, flower arrangements, a live guitar player, a Christmas tree and a dry cleaning bill for a judge’s robe, according to the investigators.
• The county awarded sole-source contracts despite there being many other qualified vendors available to perform the same work, at a much lower cost to the county.
• Taxpayer funds were routinely used to buy liquor, catered meals, candy, popcorn and pretzels filled with peanut butter for elected officials, department heads and staff members. The county’s own internal auditors have reported this improper spending over the years.
• A high-level official wrecked a county-owned vehicle, causing substantial damage, and then failed to follow proper procedure for reporting the accident.

• In one case, taxpayers paid the impound fee for a county-owned vehicle after an employee was arrested for DUI. The employee resigned and then was rehired after pleading guilty. The public has also paid for traffic fines and toll road penalties.

• Thefts of county property have been covered-up and mishandled. In one case the police were not notified and the thief still draws a paycheck from the county.
• In the last few days, they have found what appears to be a bribery scheme involving a major county department.

According to the AJC, Commissioner Nancy Jester says “things are very bad in DeKalb County; this is not a perception problem. This is a real problem.” Commissioner Jester says the findings are shocking. She says people need to be held accountable. “We need to hold people’s feet to the fire on this. Taxpayers are harmed and we won’t stop wasting money until we root out this corruption.”

ICEO Lee May’s Response to Bowers and Hyde’s Letter

“I wholeheartedly disagree with the opinion that DeKalb County is rotten to the core. The overwhelming majority of DeKalb County employees are honest, decent, hard-working, and committed to public service.

We were aware of the underlying issues mentioned in Mr. Bowers’ letter. That is why we hired him to conduct a comprehensive review of county government operations to identify corruption, fraud, criminal activity, conflicts of interest, or abuse; with a report in 120 days.

The 120 days has come and gone, and it appears the only thing we have to show for it is a 2-page letter full of salacious – but vague – innuendo.

I was informed by Mr. Bowers today that a detailed report will be issued in 3 weeks that will provide me with a road map to reduce our risk exposure to waste, fraud and abuse.”

Lee May
Interim CEO, DeKalb County Government

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