Ex-director will get settlement

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A former director of an Augusta mental health center should be paid the remainder of his settlement, a jury in U.S. District Court ruled Saturday.

The jury deliberated less than three hours before finding that F. Campbell Peery was owed $202,000 from a settlement he received when he left the Community Mental Health Center in May 2001. Mr. Peery had put $165,000 of the settlement into an insurance policy in the center's name for tax purposes, and that was later seized by the center and liquidated in May 2006. The center claims the settlement was achieved through fraud. The jury also awarded Mr. Peery interest since May 2006.

After the verdict, Mr. Peery turned to give a thumbs-up to his wife, Carolyn, who broke down in tears.

The Peerys feel like "walking from a heavy thunderstorm out into the sunshine" after having endured "obnoxious" allegations of wrongdoing during the trial, said lead attorney William F. Kaspers.

Chief Judge William T. Moore Jr. threw out the center's counterclaims accusing Mr. Peery of engaging in part of the fraud committed by former state Rep. Robin Williams and other former administrators at the center, who looted it of $1.2 million and were convicted in 2005.

Mr. Peery was not indicted and testified for the prosecution in that case, Mr. Kaspers noted. Mr. Peery also attempted to block actions of former Chief Operating Officer C. Michael Brockman and to dismiss former lobbyist Rick Camp, who were both convicted in the 2005 trial, he said.

"And this is his reward for it," Mr. Kaspers said in his closing argument. "(Mr. Peery) did everything he could to stand in the way of criminals."

Scott W. Kelly, representing the center's board, noted that former board Chairwoman Nancy Williamson questioned Mr. Peery in 2003 about how he got such a sizable settlement. He told her he came back to his office after being told he no longer had a job and "took documents, took evidence," Mr. Kelly said. "She thought blackmail. She thought what any reasonable person would have thought."

Mr. Peery said he was only retrieving his personal administrative files. Mr. Kelly noted that there is no mention of Mr. Peery's firing in board minutes during the meeting where it was supposedly done in executive session and that the settlement was approved by five of eight board members who were called individually to the center to sign a settlement, none of which would comply with the state Open Meetings Act.

The center, now called Serenity Behavioral Health Systems, will most likely not appeal, CEO Chuck Williamson said.

"It will be a significant hit, but I believe we have the greatest court system in the world," he said. "They rendered a verdict and we will abide by it. It's just good to have closure on the events of the past."

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.

CENTER FACING FURLOUGHS

Like many agencies in Georgia, Serenity Behavioral Health Systems is furloughing employees in order to meet its budget, "including me," CEO Chuck Williamson said.

Furloughing everyone except hourly employees -- about 300 of the 409 employees -- for two days each month should save about $80,000 a month, he said. Furloughs begin this month.

With state budget cuts, Medicaid cuts and rate changes, the center has lost about $900,000 this year, he said. More rate changes could cost between $400,000 and $1 million next fiscal year, he said.

"It's been one thing after another," Mr. Williamson said.

He plans to review the furloughs on a quarterly basis and reassess whether they are still needed.

Comments (18) Add comment
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justus4
109
Points
justus4 06/07/09 - 05:29 am
0
0
This guy had a substance
Unpublished

This guy had a substance abuse problem...no problem. How could the jury not take issue with his behavior? What about personal responsibility or individual accountability? Oh, thats only for particular groups and use to deny such settlements. One big legal sham.

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 06/07/09 - 08:11 am
0
0
There was obviously a lot

There was obviously a lot more to this case than the tiny tidbits fed to the public. The court, on the other hand, had all of the details and found in Peery's favor. Where's the sham?

americafirst
966
Points
americafirst 06/07/09 - 08:28 am
0
0
Am I dreaming? Justus4

Am I dreaming? Justus4 speaking of personal responsibility. Such talk goes against the very essence of his beliefs and core values.

americafirst
966
Points
americafirst 06/07/09 - 08:30 am
0
0
This guy must be white.

This guy must be white.

andywarhol
0
Points
andywarhol 06/07/09 - 08:39 am
0
0
For you thinking it's a

For you thinking it's a white/black thing; were you there in court? Did you see the color of the jury? I promise you it wasn't an all white jury.

DEVGRU
0
Points
DEVGRU 06/07/09 - 09:15 am
0
0
I am glad this is over. Mr.

I am glad this is over. Mr. Peery has been rewarded for the mess he went through. I worked at the center after he was let go. All I can say is that it was hell for the caring individuals who make Serenity what it is today. The current CEO and administrators have turned things around and should be commended, as well as the Medical Director/Acting CEO and the Clinical Director who carried the center through during the court battles that ensued during that terrible time. Thank you.

DEVGRU
0
Points
DEVGRU 06/07/09 - 09:19 am
0
0
The CSB at the time of this

The CSB at the time of this mess smells fishy. Why have they come out smelling like a rose? Some members had to have known what was going on. Where is the responsibility?

jack
10
Points
jack 06/07/09 - 12:57 pm
0
0
Unless you were in court or

Unless you were in court or other personally know the circumstances, you need to STFU. I was one of the witnesses/former Csb member and Peery got what he was given by a vote of the majority of the CSB. Williamson should have had to pay Peery out of her vengeful pocket.

gcap
290
Points
gcap 06/07/09 - 01:05 pm
0
0
Here's an idea for Richmond

Here's an idea for Richmond County. Take the Golf and Gardens land and build a massive mental health facility. Use that facility for ALL the politicians in Richmond County. Have an outpatient center for the voters of RC.

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 06/07/09 - 01:31 pm
0
0
Whoa. I vote in Richmond

Whoa. I vote in Richmond County, and I didn't vote for any of the ne'er do wells on the commission. Use a smaller brush.

Little Lamb
47861
Points
Little Lamb 06/07/09 - 01:35 pm
0
0
I wonder what kind of cut the

I wonder what kind of cut the lawyers will get out of this award?

dont live there anymore
2
Points
dont live there anymore 06/07/09 - 02:37 pm
0
0
Little Lamb, probably the

Little Lamb, probably the normal fees. What are you implying?

dawgfan
0
Points
dawgfan 06/07/09 - 02:48 pm
0
0
i agree with gcap only

i agree with gcap only problem there is not enough land for all of them

shivas
2
Points
shivas 06/07/09 - 03:37 pm
0
0
Jack, are you a client peer?

Jack, are you a client peer?

DEVGRU
0
Points
DEVGRU 06/07/09 - 04:26 pm
0
0
Freespeach, you have no idea

Freespeach, you have no idea what you are talking about. Mr. Peery went through hell. He deserves his reward. The CSB chair during this time is nothing but a criminal who must have turned states evidence at the time of this corruption. There is no other reason for this person being out of a prison cell. I was there and I saw the mess. Claiming stupidity is not justification for your crimes former chairperson. You saved your tail by the skin of your teeth. Or did you? Hell is a hot place.

themaninthemirror
0
Points
themaninthemirror 06/07/09 - 07:21 pm
0
0
I am glad the court found in

I am glad the court found in favor of Mr. Peery. As was stated earlier by another post, there is much that we aa the public do not, and most likely, ever will not know about this case. In the words of a famous rapper, who I canot recall the name of right at this time,"go get yo' money".

colcamp1
10
Points
colcamp1 06/07/09 - 11:46 pm
0
0
The last part of Jackazz

The last part of Jackazz name, says it all. I know he would not have voted for certain ones to get it and if he is on any board, it has to be one you will have to hold your nose, while around them.

AAQueen
18
Points
AAQueen 06/08/09 - 08:09 am
0
0
Campbell Peery was owed

Campbell Peery was owed $202,000 from a settlement he received when he left the Community Mental Health Center in May 2001. Mr. Peery had put $165,000 of the settlement into an insurance policy in the center's name for tax purposes,

Now this sounds illegal, at least tax fraud.
Why would he put money into a place where he was fired from? This just doesn't make sense to me. Of course I don't know the entire story but I smell fish.

CubsFan
0
Points
CubsFan 06/08/09 - 09:48 am
0
0
Fat Jack Cheatam with his

Fat Jack Cheatam with his crazy eye needs to keep his big mouth shut! He was in on ALL this mess too and I think he should be the one paying Perry back! And if you didn't notice next to the article in the paper the people at Serenity are now having to furlough 2 days a month just to stay open!! Now on top of that they have to pay back money to someone for something Jack and the "GANG" did!!

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