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Governor informed of "possible malfeasance" Columbia County tax commissioner

Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 9:34 AM
Last updated Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013 12:33 AM
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The Columbia County Commission voted Monday morning to send an official letter to Gov. Nathan Deal reporting “possible malfeasance” on the part of Tax Commissioner Kay Allen.



Commission Chairman Ron Cross said he and all the other commissioners were obliged to notify the governor under state law.

“The action taken here today brings no joy to this commission. It neither supports nor condemns the alleged conduct of the tax commissioner,” said Cross in a statement following the vote. “By law each of us is required to report any suspicions of misconduct to the governor.”

The malfeasance cited in the letter refers to Allen’s fees from the cities of Grovetown and Harlem to collect taxes “which she retained as personal compensation that should have been remitted to the county.”

According to records acquired by The Augusta Chronicle, since 2009, Allen collected more than $160,000 in personal compensation from the two cities for those services. Allen has acknowledged those payments were fees she kept for herself. Her total compensation for 2013, including $36,000 from Harlem and Grovetown, was $171,597, according to county documents.

The commission’s letter states that practice is a “clear violation” of state law, which says “the governing authority, not the tax commissioner, may contract with municipalities to accept, receive and retain compensation if the county had more than 50,000 parcels.”

Columbia County passed the 50,000-parcel threshold in 2009, two years after the law went into effect.

The letter also says Allen was made aware of the changes in the law in a 2007 state training for tax commissioners conducted by the Georgia Department of Revenue.

Grovetown and Harlem officials have said they thought the payments were going to the county, not to Allen’s personal bank account.

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office wrapped up its investigation into the matter last week and forwarded its files to District Attorney Ashley Wright.

According to the commission’s letter to the governor, “no less than two federal law enforcement agencies” are also investigating the tax commissioner’s side deals with the two cities. Cross said it was his understanding that investigators with the FBI and the IRS are involved.

Commissioner’s approved the letter unanimously, except for Commissioner Charles Allen, Kay Allen’s husband, who recused himself from the vote.

Allen was in her Evans office Monday, after being absent from work most of last week.

She directed a reporter’s questions to the Atlanta area attorney she has retained, Douglas Chalmers Jr., of Political Law Group.

“Any questions, you will need to talk with my attorney,” Allen said Monday.

In an e-mail Monday, Chalmers said Allen had also retained attorney Pat McDonough of the law firm of Andersen, Tate & Carr. McDonough heads up the firm’s criminal defense division, according to the firm Web site. Chalmers said they also will be working with Augusta attorney, Jack Long, a longtime friend of the tax commissioner.

Chalmers said Allen will not be making any public comment on the situation.

“She will not make any statements while there is an investigation is going on,” he said. “I will speak for her when she needs to make a statement.”

Chalmers said his client was a dedicated public servant and disputed the idea that Allen had violated any state laws in her agreements to collect city taxes.

“Georgia law has long provided, and it still provides, that county tax commissioners are authorized to accept extra compensation when they do extra work by helping townships collect local taxes,” he said. “We look forward to vigorously defending Kay against any incorrect, politically-motivated allegations to the contrary.”

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bright idea
855
Points
bright idea 12/24/13 - 11:38 am
0
0
It seems

that several folks think Allen took the entire amount of taxes paid by Harlem and Grovetown property owners, not just the contracted amount for collection services. If she did that it would really be a small fortune. I read these reports that she only took what the cities paid her, not what she collected in taxes. She's still a crook.

Karen Slater-McDaniel
3100
Points
Karen Slater-McDaniel 12/24/13 - 11:47 am
2
0
No one thinks

No one thinks she took the entire amount collected. But her 2% had to come out of total collections. This has to be traceable! If not, then someone was "cooking books" on the GIVING & RECEIVING side. You just cannot have a debit without a credit without having an audit trail. If there is not an audit trail on at least one side of the transaction then both parties are in on it. I just don't believe that is possible. There is ALWAYS a mistake made when someone is committing fraud.

Riverman1
87128
Points
Riverman1 12/24/13 - 12:12 pm
3
0
KSM, these hand written bills

KSM, these hand written bills sent to the towns for the "work" is what throws a monkey wrench into our efforts to find out what happened. Speaking of fraud, heck, for all we know, she may have just made up the amount she billed the towns. If she was getting checks directly from them, as I believe, and it didn't go to the other Columbia County account, how could you track it on the Columbia County end? But I defer to your expert knowledge with these type things.

PS... I hope Harlem and Grovetown saved those hand written bills and we could see a copy. Please someone post a copy if you have them. It could be informative and funny at the same time.

itsanotherday1
45493
Points
itsanotherday1 12/24/13 - 02:40 pm
3
0
Now that someone has broken

Now that someone has broken the crust on this pile of dung, I hope they can follow the stink as far as it goes and root out other corruption in the county.

ColCo
842
Points
ColCo 12/24/13 - 05:08 pm
1
1
The question nobody is asking...

What did Charles Allen know and when did he know it? You can try and blame Ron Cross for not being the all-seeing eye of knowledge, or attempt to stir up a conversation about Trey Allen and a private business deal, even keep the torchlight burning for Scott Dean, but what did the man who is married to Kay Allen know and where was his oversight with matters regarding the county?

Lee Benedict
1625
Points
Lee Benedict 12/24/13 - 06:15 pm
1
0
Sarah has some good points,

but I seriously doubt that Rick Allen's fingerprints are anywhere near this. However, John Stone's people will probably try to portray Rick as the mastermind of the whole thing. Don't get me wrong, I like John as well as I like Rick, but I know that Stone's people are pouncing on this.

As for Jim's comments, Ron Cross must have known something was awry; he seems to know "everything", and, after the law was passed, didn't he and his puppet, Scott Johnson, have to go to Atlanta to receive training? At such training sessions, attendees must sign in and sign out, which, are public record, as are addresses of homes that Columbia County will probably have to buy from homeowners because Ron and Scott turned a blind eye to certain codes. Remember? Savannah Rapids (I think) and pictures of the properties and Ron/Scott claiming that code enforcement must not have done its job? Who ordered them to back off? Gee, that's a tough one...but, another topic for another time that will be here soon enough. Plus, if Ron was truthful and all possibly non-kosher things must be reported, then Trey Allen's scam is definitely worthy of investigation. Think, a sitting commissioner, sued for not paying rent for roughly 18 months at $4,500.00 per month AFTER taking $28,500.00 in cash, when anyone who knows anything about real estate will tell you that a tenant who refuses to pay rent for 1-2 months is evicted. Trey Allen "could" man up and address his collecting close to $110,000 in cash and free rent...but he won't.

Jim raised a good point about what Charles Allen knew and when did he know it. If an additional $50-$100 turned up in the Allen balance sheet, it could be anything. But goodness by golly, $160,000+ over a few years...he must have noticed that sum. Then again, if Kay walked around handwritten bills and special envelopes with green ink and blah blah blah, who knows where she tucked away the money. One would certainly think that a commissioner heard something over the years, but who's to say. Plus, Fifth Amendment issues in relation to his spouse.

More pressing is that if the checks were made out to something along the lines of "Columbia County Tax Commissioner: ATTN Kay Allen", and if the checks were cashed/deposited, then a record of what teller performed the transactions is out there. True, someone at one or more banks may have been scared of Kay and her vindictive ways, BUT, I'd much rather have Kay angry with me than the daggum FDIC or the IRS or the Department of the Treasury. Kay can't put you in jail, but anyone of those agencies could, and to boot, with Obama at the head of the federal government calling many shots, if any official in a very red county in a state that Obama lost twice could be gotten, Obama's crew would chomp at the bit. In short, I ain't cashing that check.

I'd like to know what bank(s) was involved.

I'd like to know why Grovetown and Harlem had a contract with Kay Allen but thought that they were giving those monies to Columbia County. If that is what they thought, then how did they pay Kay for her contractual duties? If everything was on the up and up, why sneak around handwritten bills, specially marked envelopes...?

This will be an interesting period of time. I may be off the mark, but Kay's fees may be transferred to her Atlanta law firm. If she is so innocent and "that's my money", why lawyer up and why go to Atlanta for a lawyer? Why not get a local attorney in search of work who, if she's so squeaky-clean, can make some appearances and file some paperwork in her defense of this lawful and honorable contract?

Riverman1
87128
Points
Riverman1 12/25/13 - 12:57 am
2
0
Connections

Charles Allen and Rick Allen have worked as a team politically. It's my belief that Charles knew what Kay was doing all along. Charles is deeply involved with Rick's campaign. What's troubling to me is Charles and Rick met together privately with Gov. Deal in Savannah not long ago for a strategy conference and now we throw to Deal the investigation of a crime by the other Allen?

DoggieMom
244
Points
DoggieMom 12/25/13 - 01:07 am
2
0
Full Audit Needed

We moved here in 1996, & have written ALL tax checks, whether property or auto tags, directly to "Kay Allen". I thought this was odd, but all friends & neighbors confirmed "that's how it's done here".
Well, maybe not!!
There's more fishy accounting going on than anyone realizes.
We moved away for awhile, but less than 1 year, & our "homestead exemption" was taken away, even though we returned twice a month, & lived in the house. Who had the right to do that? Someone who had dollar signs shining in her eyes!!
As a Columbia County Resident, an audit should be done EVERY Year, & right now, it should cover ALL years that Kay Allen has been in office, lining her pockets with our hard earned $$$$.

If she's honest, she would insist on such an audit be completed.
Clear your name, Kay.
And change who we write our tax checks to: Columbia County,
not Kay Allen!!

Lee Benedict
1625
Points
Lee Benedict 12/25/13 - 11:24 am
1
0
Not me.

I have always been told to make checks payable to "Columbia County Tag Agent" when I register vehicles.

truthfinder
123
Points
truthfinder 12/25/13 - 07:25 pm
0
0
Checks

Lee Benedict you are exactly right. The stamps for checks used in the office say Columbia County Tag Agent. Also, the bills that are mailed out say to make checks out to Columbia County Tax Commissioner...no mention of Kay Allen's name...

Riverman1
87128
Points
Riverman1 12/25/13 - 09:01 pm
0
0
Changed a few years ago

It seems like the policy was changed a few years ago as to who checks would be made payable to. Bills used to instruct checks be payable to Kay Allen. The change made it Columbia County Tax Commissioner. I wonder who instigated the change and is it related to this issue in any way?

NrthAugustaSam
491
Points
NrthAugustaSam 12/27/13 - 04:57 pm
0
0
This smells

Knowing how the Allen's have been in cahoots with Deal, it will be a miracle if he doesn't give her some kind of an award instead of taking the high road and make an example of her like he should.

D D DOG
101
Points
D D DOG 12/30/13 - 03:22 am
0
0
If what I have read about N.
Unpublished

If what I have read about N. Deal is accurate, then he will not do the right thing with this thief. Sounds like R.W. Allen has already made a deal with Deal. Let's keep this effort going for K. to be dealt with just like you or me if we had stolen money. I do not understand why elected officials have such a hard time calling a thief a thief.Could it be her big time Atlanta attorneys are also Deals Attorneys. Also, is Col. County paying for these high dollar attorneys. Nothing anymore surprises me with how corrupt C.C. is. Richmond County,with all its problems is like a well oiled machine compared to us. Hey, Steven Kendrick(Ric. County Tax Comm.) I am proud you have taken the high road. Wish you were in Col. County. The way I see it D.Johnson is the only reason that "BUSINESS AS USUAL" is not still going on. I say reinstate him or better yet make him Tax Commissioner,,but we all know an honest man would have a hard time in politics. Let your voice be heard. Don't let your hard earned money be stolen. Remember, the more K. steals the more tax you will pay.nuf said

D D DOG
101
Points
D D DOG 12/30/13 - 03:39 am
0
0
Reply to Un-Truthfinder 12-23-13
Unpublished

If you have any info of wrong doings by Johnson then tell us what they are. You are just trying to minimize how corrupt K. Allen is. Let us know!! I say anyone that Allen has abused,fired,etc. must not be willing to be part of the corruption. Time for a change!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

D D DOG
101
Points
D D DOG 12/31/13 - 03:41 am
0
0
Question
Unpublished

Rumor has it that Lynn Farmer resigned this week. Hey K. ,is this another loose end you are taking care of before someone finds out the real reason she resigned. More business as usual,nuf said

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