An employee at the Columbia County Tax Commissioner’s office summoned police Wednesday after she said former Deputy Tax Commissioner Dwight Johnson came in and threatened the jobs of employees who made “statements about him.”
Clerk Diane Chiera told deputies Johnson came into the Evans tag office about 11 a.m. and asked to speak with system administrator Debbie Washington for information on an abandoned vehicle he had purchased, according to a Columbia County Sheriff’s Office incident report. The clerk told Johnson that Washington as unavailable and then fielded questions about the vehicle.
Johnson, who said felt he was getting the runaround from Washington, then asked the clerk if tag office employees were asked to write statements about him, according to the report.
According to the report, Johnson told the clerk that everybody who wrote statements about him would be gone once he gets back into the office. Chiera said Johnson then made a slashing motion to his throat.
In October, Johnson was fired by Tax Commissioner Kay Allen after $55 in cash went missing from her office in July.
Allen is under investigation for “alleged misconduct” involving more than $160,000 in additional compensation she collected from Harlem and Grovetown without the commission’s knowledge or consent.
In late December, the Columbia County Commission sent a letter to the governor’s office seeking Gov. Nathan Deal’s intervention in the controversy, after a two-month investigation by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and FBI.
A letter sent by Deal on Jan. 7 said Allen had 10 days to explain her actions or face removal from office.
In the report, the clerk said Johnson told her that he’d just talked with County Commission Chairman Ron Cross, who told him he’d met with the governor and “she is gone.”
Cross acknowledged on Thursday that he had met with Johnson, as indicated in the report; however, he denied telling him that Allen would be out of office. Instead, Cross said he told Johnson that Allen had received a letter from the governor’s office but Cross was unaware if she had yet replied.
In a phone interview Thursday, Johnson said he only spoke to Cross about their own futures.
“I talked to Ron Cross about my future and his future, and that’s all we talked about,” he said. “Because anything as far as Kay Allen’s future … is really nothing to talk about. We really have no idea.”
Johnson said he asked to speak with a manager because his motor vehicle issue was complicated. After he received help from the clerk, Johnson said he told her to have a nice day and left.
“I strictly went to the motor vehicle office for motor vehicle business,” said Johnson, adding that video surveillance and a witness will corroborate his story.
Johnson said he believes the filed report was a “calculated effort” by Allen to make him look bad.
Johnson, an employee for 15 years, was fired after returning to work from 12 weeks of medical leave. He denied any wrongdoing in the missing money and said his work relationship with Allen had deteriorated in May after telling her that he intended to run for tax commissioner in 2016. Allen said Johnson’s dismissal was entirely linked to his job performance.
Before he was fired, Johnson said Allen refused to allow him back to the Tax Commissioner’s office in Evans, ordering him to report to Kroger and stay there for eight hours.
Columbia County News-Times publisher Steve Crawford contributed to this story.