Friday February 22nd, 2019 5:07PM

HCC responds to allegations

By Jerry Gunn Reporter
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GAINESVILLE - The Hall County Board of Commissioners, reacting to information given the GBI Tuesday alleging misdeeds in the operation of county government, says it has "already taken action to address these questions."

The GBI said Tuesday, after being presented with what the complainants said was documentation to back up their assertions, that it expects to contact the Hall County District Attorney soon about information.

But, county spokeswoman Nikki Young pointed out Wednesday that "on March 16, the Board of Commissioners requested that District Attorney Lee Darragh determine whether criminal investigation is appropriate in the matter of payments made by Hall County to Omega Consulting Services."

Young also noted "the Commission also requested an audit of all five commissioners, the county administrator and former county administrator."

Young said the Commission and Administration "are confident that the District Attorney will look into this thoroughly, and we will await his response before further discussion of the matter."

The GBI expects to contact the Hall County District Attorney soon about information a group of citizens provided the agency Tuesday alleging misdeeds in the operation of county government.

AccessNorthGA.com learned Tuesday afternoon a citizens group presented information detailing commission matters in consulting services, contracts, land aquistions and other related items to Agent in Charge Mike Ayers during a morning meeting at the regional GBI office in Cleveland.

Ayers confirmed the meeting occured and that he planned to contact District Attorney Lee Darragh soon; he would not disclose details of the information the citizens group handed over to him Tuesday.

"I'm certain that decision will be forthcoming fairly quickly," Ayers said. "This is the first clear indication we have of what the allegations are."

Ayers said it would be up to Darragh to decide if the information, aquired under the Freedom of Informaton Act, would rise to the level of misconduct calling for a criminal investigation.

"We'll of course consult with District Attorney Lee Darragh concerning these allegations," Ayers said.

Ayers said the Hall County Sheriff's Office contacted him last week and at their meeting last Thursday the commissioners, themselves, called for a GBI investigation into possible misconduct involving payments to a consultant.

Commissioners voted 3-0 to call for an investigation by the GBI into the unauthorized payments disclosed by Chairman Tom Oliver for consulting fees to former Gainesville City manager-turned consultant Carlyle Cox and his firm, Omega Consulting.

Oliver stepped aside for the motion and vice-chairman Bobby Banks called for the vote. The motion came from Ashley Bell, who said he wanted the investigation to "clear the air."

Banks amended the motion, calling for an audit of all five commissioners and the present and past county administrator.
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