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Augusta attorney expected to earn $13,000 a year in TEE Center parking deck deal with commissioners

Fry's handwritten proposal detailed parking deck deal

Monday, March 12, 2012 4:00 PM
Last updated Tuesday, March 13, 2012 12:11 AM
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 David Fry expected to gain about $13,000 a year from a proposal to two Augusta Commission members on a downtown parking deck that eventually earned him criminal charges in 2009.



The handwritten proposal, titled “Terms to Vote Yes on T Center,” is included in the evidence the district attorney’s office would have used to prosecute two felony charges of bribery against Fry. The document became public record and was reviewed by The Augusta Chronicle after Fry accepted a plea bargain last week that resulted in five years’ probation.

An investigation shows that Fry presented Commissioners Corey Johnson and Alvin Mason with the proposal Aug. 21, 2009, during a meeting at Fry’s home on Indian Cove Road. The document lists avenues of income beyond parking fees, including a car wash, gift shop and valet parking.

In that meeting with commissioners – and in follow-up phone calls secretly recorded by a Richmond County sheriff’s investigator – Fry told Johnson and Mason that he could help them gain the contract for the parking deck in exchange for giving him 3 percent of gross income. He also wanted to be their counsel for “slip and falls” and other legal issues. In his conversations, Fry detailed ways to avoid getting the commissioners directly involved so as not to open a “big can of worms” and suggested they incorporate in South Carolina to avoid attracting the attention of “snoopy reporters.”

If they went forward with the plan, Fry’s proposal expected the parking deck to draw $444,000 in gross income a year, leaving him with $13,000 a year for 15 years. Fry listed expenses of labor and costs of goods at roughly $200,000 a year.

The commissioners did not immediately contact law enforcement but were uneasy about the proposal. In later interviews with then-sheriff’s Sgt. Blaise Dresser, now a lieutenant, the commissioners explained that they discussed it with other commissioners to get their opinion. In his interview with Dresser, Commissioner Jerry Brigham said he saw the document during a meeting with Johnson and Mason at Longhorn Steakhouse.

Brigham said he considered the proposal illegal, “but at the same time thought it was so wild it would never happen.” Commissioner Joe Bowles made a similar statement to investigators, saying he “knew the proposal to be illegal but thought it was too outrageous to be true.”

Sheriff Ronnie Strength was contacted and given the proposal Aug. 26, 2009. Dresser started the investigation that same day.

In his own interview with investigators, Fry denied that he outright offered the contract in exchange for votes. His intention was to get the parking deck contract for himself and “later allow Mason and Johnson to sublet the operations if they so wish,” according to Dresser’s report.

“Fry stated that he never attempted to bribe either Mason or Johnson,” the report says.

Comments (17) Add comment
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dichotomy
36278
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dichotomy 03/12/12 - 03:27 pm
7
0
"Neither commissioner

"Neither commissioner immediately contacted law enforcement, but were uneasy about the proposal. "

And there is probably as 'bout as close to any truth we will get in this whole thing. Were they not sure they were being offered a bribe or were they considering whether they should take the deal or not? I know what my guess is.

Little Lamb
47971
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Little Lamb 03/12/12 - 03:32 pm
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0
Recent Chronicle articles

Recent Chronicle articles have been characterizing the bribe as trying to get Mason & Johnson to vote YES on the parking deck. I said that was incomplete, because when the discussion was going on between Fry and Mason & Johnson, they hadn't even taken a vote on the TEE Center yet. Nobody wrote in to challenge me or back me up. Now, if you look at the second paragraph above, you can see a little hint of corroborating evidence for my statement.

Riverman1
90616
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Riverman1 03/12/12 - 03:45 pm
0
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From the article, we see the

From the article, we see the parking deck management deal is worth hundreds of thousands a year. But we don't see the names reported that were mentioned on the bribe note as being behind the deal for the votes of the two black Commissioners. By the way, the note doesn't seem like something written by a three year old either.

rmwardsr
525
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rmwardsr 03/12/12 - 05:04 pm
2
0
Sounds like something cooked

Sounds like something cooked up in the smoke filled(cigar) back room. How was this ever supposed to get off the ground. Did they also find Fry guilty of stupidity?

Austin Rhodes
2970
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Austin Rhodes 03/12/12 - 07:25 pm
0
1
Glad to see Kyle got the

Glad to see Kyle got the file...hope others will do the same, to see the "wild" nature of the whole thing. This was David Fry's "baby" and no one else had anything to do with it.

The article should include the "chicken scratch" notes that have the appearance of being scribbled by a kid.

Riverman1
90616
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Riverman1 03/13/12 - 03:13 am
0
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Hand writing is not something

Hand writing is not something to judge much by. Mine is pretty bad as is the hand writing of many. It's the words and those appear cogent and to the point. Fry is remarkably cured now of his emotional problems. So why weren't those people mentioned in the note as being behind the scheme called to court to testify?

Mason and Johnson sat down in Fry's living room with him and thought he was dead serious. Think they don't have reason to be upset now with him getting off?

Are some of us this naive?

Austin Rhodes
2970
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Austin Rhodes 03/13/12 - 06:50 am
0
0
No one testifies in a case

No one testifies in a case when a plea is entered.

Little Lamb
47971
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Little Lamb 03/13/12 - 06:55 am
0
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We have photos of two pages

We have photos of two pages of the handwritten note, but the photos look like there is one or possibly more pages that we are not shown.

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 03/13/12 - 08:22 am
1
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Just a wiki for the term

Just a wiki for the term "Complicity".

"A person with such knowledge may become an accessory by helping or encouraging the criminal in some way, or simply by failing to report the crime to proper authority."

Moot point b/c the plea bargain takes everything off the table. But the way the article reads, didn't this occur by the commissioners' own admission? Just an observation folks so don't think I have a horse in the race or anything.

Austin Rhodes
2970
Points
Austin Rhodes 03/13/12 - 09:22 am
0
0
I think the notes from the

I think the notes from the interviews conducted by investigators with others would be enlightening as well, I spent an hour with Blaise Dresser discussing the whole thing sitting on my couch...and I believe Scott Hudson did as well.

Which means, gentlemen, the police must have believed we had insight into the situation, specifically (if I remember correctly) Fry's rationale and state of mind.

Imagine that.

broad street narrow mind
348
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broad street narrow mind 03/13/12 - 10:00 am
0
0
which outside agencies were
Unpublished

which outside agencies were called in and when?

Austin Rhodes
2970
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Austin Rhodes 03/13/12 - 10:23 am
0
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BS...why do you ask questions

BS...why do you ask questions when you already know the answers? When elected officials are VICTIMS, no outside agencies are called in...EVER.

Case in point...an elected Judge executes an intruder in his home. No outside agency called in.

broad street narrow mind
348
Points
broad street narrow mind 03/13/12 - 10:34 am
0
0
did the sheriff interview all
Unpublished

did the sheriff interview all the commissioners individually and by himself? what other cases got that sort of attention to detail?

broad street narrow mind
348
Points
broad street narrow mind 03/13/12 - 10:35 am
0
0
i thought i heard fry's
Unpublished

i thought i heard fry's attorney (on the defense side, i think) mention some outside agency called in. anyone?

Kyle Martin
0
Points
Kyle Martin 03/13/12 - 10:44 am
0
0
Those are the only two pages

Those are the only two pages of the "Terms to Vote Yes on T Center" that were included in the discovery. Several times it's referenced to as two pages, so I don't think there's anything else.
Lt. Dresser interviewed almost all the commissioners about their involvement, which was none. The FBI was called in Sept. 2, 2009 and a special agent sat in the interview Lt. Dresser had with Fry. The U.S. Attorney's Office was also given a chance to review the case and they turned it back over to the DA's office.

Austin Rhodes
2970
Points
Austin Rhodes 03/13/12 - 11:00 am
0
0
If I am not mistaken, the

If I am not mistaken, the Sheriff asked the FBI to look in to insure the "i's were dotted and t's were crossed". They were.

Like I said, if the RCSO can handle a case where an elected official KILLS someone, they certainly handle a case where a disturbed individual makes a ham handed attempt to trick a few local commissioners.

Austin Rhodes
2970
Points
Austin Rhodes 03/13/12 - 11:01 am
0
0
Kyle...have you only looked

Kyle...have you only looked at the presented evidence...have you not accessed the investigative file?

Little Lamb
47971
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Little Lamb 03/13/12 - 11:06 am
0
0
I'm glad the GBI were not

I'm glad the GBI were not called in. They mangled their investigation of the football game brawl.

broad street narrow mind
348
Points
broad street narrow mind 03/13/12 - 12:20 pm
0
0
what's sandy hodson up to?
Unpublished

what's sandy hodson up to? not covering david fry?

Little Lamb
47971
Points
Little Lamb 03/13/12 - 12:50 pm
0
0
It's springtime, BSNM. She

It's springtime, BSNM. She is out digging in the garden and pulling weeds.

Little Lamb
47971
Points
Little Lamb 03/13/12 - 01:19 pm
0
0
Kyle Martin posted: Lt.

Kyle Martin posted:

Lt. Dresser interviewed almost all the commissioners about their involvement, which was none.

Lt. Dresser didn't need to interview Comm. Hatney, who couldn't buy a clue if they were on sale half off.

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