Equipment probe findings by DA likely Tuesday

Forested land off Booths Branch Road in rural Lincoln County was where Augusta employees admitted using government equipment on a private job site this spring. FILE

An investigation by the Augusta district attorney’s office is looking at all aspects of a city equipment controversy and its findings may be released Tuesday, District Attorney Natalie Paine said.

 

The misuse of a landfill truck, trailer and excavator in Lincoln County by a clocked-in Augusta landfill worker prompted the resignation June 12 of Environmental Services Director Mark Johnson but left many questions unanswered.

Interviews by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office that City Administrator Janice Allen Jackson said she received just a few days before Johnson’s resignation connected the equipment to numerous parties, including two city contractors, the sheriff’s office and Johnson, who told investigators he directed the employee to leave the job site.

The interviews place solid waste manager McKinley Williams at a property in Lincoln County owned by a former landfill contractor with an excavator loaned by the sheriff’s office to the landfill and towed to the property on a city trailer. Another employee, Robert Wilson, told investigators he’d worked at the site while on the clock.

The initial sheriff’s investigation was forwarded to the city in late March, but Jackson told The Augusta Chronicle that Johnson did not disclose his involvement in the incident and that “the conversation with me centered on the actions of Mr. Williams.”

Jackson’s investigation into the incident remains ongoing. Her spokesman said its probable end date was unknown. “That would be impossible for us to answer,” spokesman Jim Beasley said Friday.

Sworn into office March 13, Paine said earlier this month she did not receive the sheriff’s office report until making a request but got it promptly afterward. Commissioner Ben Hasan said Paine had been looking at the matter since June 1.

Earlier this week, the Augusta Commission declined to second Commissioner Marion Williams’ motion to refer the investigation to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which typically investigates when government agencies are involved.

Paine said Friday her office is looking at all aspects of the equipment probe, not just involvement by city employees.

Reach Susan McCord at (706) 823-3215 or susan.mccord@augustachronicle.com.

 

More

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 19:42

Rants and raves