Former Columbus department head indicted - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Former Columbus department head indicted

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  The Columbus Parks and Recreation scandal is once again making headlines.

Members of the Muscogee County Grand Jury indicted former director of the department, Tony Adams and program specialist Herman Porter Monday on forgery, theft and conspiracy charges. Specifically, they're charged with three counts of Conspiracy to Defraud a Political Subdivision, two counts of Forgery in the First Degree and two counts of Theft by Taking. William Fox is also charged in the document.

[ WebExtra! Read Bill of Indictment ]

The men are accused mishandling more $200,000. Police say they used a secret bank account and spent the money on what many thought was a city-run travel basketball team.

Columbus Police say Tony Adams and Herman Porter set up an illegal bank account at CB&T for five years, using the city's tax ID number to list it as a non-profit for their athletic program. According to investigators, no one in a position of authority knew about the account or gave authorization for it. It's alleged $200,000 was funneled through the secret account.

Detectives sat they can trace money directly from the Director of the East Marietta Basketball League William Fox's bank account to the hidden account they say Adams and Porter opened. Under East Marietta Basketball League falls the Georgia Blazers, the elite sports organization the men ran, including basketball, track and field and boxing. However, police say the address for the Georgia Blazers was listed as Comer Avenue in Columbus- the address for the Parks and Recreation Department.

Police say all of the money that was funneled illegal bank account should have gone to Columbus but the defense disagrees, saying it was never the city's money.

Police say the money was spent on hotel rooms for the basketball team, coaches, recruiters and scouts as well as a TV, tow bill and plane ticket. Most of the transactions were cash, according to detectives, not leaving a paper trail.

When it comes to the money raised from the basketballs tournaments, police say half went to the city and the other half went into the secret bank account.

Police also testified that William Fox would submit invoices to the city for referee costs for tournaments, the city would pay him and then Fox would send a check back to the authorized back account.

Fox's attorney says he never knew how the money was being spent.

When it comes to the East Marietta Basketball tournaments held in Columbus, police say the city absorbed the entire cost and Tony Adams negotiated the tournaments.

Adams has been terminated from his position with the city.

Porter has been put on administrative leave without pay.

Their indictment also states they established contracts with Nike in order to get money and products.

The case stems from a 27-page audit that was completed by Columbus' internal auditor John Redmond last May. In question, was $150,000 to fund a traveling Innovative Sports Program, which fields about 470 athletes in boys and girls basketball, boxing and track and field. The Georgia Blazers under-17 elite basketball team operated under the program and was coached by Parks and Recreation director Tony Adams. In the breakdown of the Innovative Sports Program, the auditor recommended that the city stop funding the travel teams and they be funded or sponsored by a non-governmental source.

In July, the case turned criminal and Adams, Porter and Fox turned themselves in.

Once the case is arraigned, it will be placed on a docket for trial. Once case is indicted, it typically takes two weeks to be arraigned but officials say that can be postponed.

The men are out of jail on bond.

Timeline

October 15, 2010 -  Preliminary hearing

October 1, 2010 - Attorney Shevon Thomas, who represents fired Parks & Recreation Director Tony Adams, withdrew his motion for a gag order

September 28, 2010 - City fires Tony Adams. 

September 14, 2010 - William Fox, the director of Basketball Operations at East Marietta Basketball Inc. turned himself in. 

August 24, 2010 - Stacey Jackson tells News Leader 9 he no longer represents Tony Adams.

August 24, 2010 - Tony Adams and Herman Porter were arrested and face felony charges stemming from the police probe. They are suspended without pay.

July 30, 2010 - Herman Porter and Tony Adams had their coaching privileges revoked by the city manager's office.

July 15, 2010 - The investigation officially became "criminal" in nature.

July 14, 2010 - Parks and Recreation Director Tony Adams and Program Specialist Herman Porter were placed on administrative leave with pay pending the results of the investigation. Deputy City Manager Lisa Goodwin took over the day-to-day operations of the department.

July 13, 2010 - Assistant city attorney Jaimie DeLoach said a city computer e-mail search for keywords "Nike" and "contract" produced an e-mail from August 16, 2006 from former Nike basketball marketing manager Don Crenshaw. Attorney Stacey Jackson, who represents both Adams and Porter, claims that there was never a contract between the parks and recreation department and Nike.


July 3, 2010 - A $500,000 pilot program to help at-risk youths was placed on hold by Mayor Jim Wetherington amid the Columbus Parks and Recreation audit and police investigation.

June 22, 2010 - News leader 9 reports that Tony Adams and Herman Porter have hired a second attorney, Don Jackson of The Sports Group in Montgomery, AL.

June 21, 2010 - Attorney Stacey Jackson is now representing a total of nine parks employees. All of them except Adams work in the Recreational Services Division, which manages the city's recreation centers and operates the Innovative Sports Program. Five of the nine full-time employees in Recreational Services — Margaret Brown, Shelley Stephens, Herman Porter, Gary Freeman and Tim Marshall — are being represented by Jackson.

June 8, 2010 - Tony Adams had until June 8th to respond to the findings in the audit during Columbus Council. Although Adams did not appear before council, with the support of City Manager Isaiah Hugley, Adams suggested breaking the team away from city funding and seeking private investment to continue the teams.

June 2, 2010 - Tony Adams hires defense attorney Stacey Jackson, who calls a news conference to say that "Mr. Adams never had a chance to respond to the audit."

May 28, 2010 - Columbus Mayor Jim Wetherington called for a police investigation into the city's parks department after an audit questioned its spending.

May 25, 2010 - Out-of-town travel funded by the city was suspended and temporarily placed on hold by the Parks and Recreation Department.

May 17, 2010
A 27-page audit was completed by the city's internal auditor John Redmond. In question, was $150,000 to fund a traveling Innovative Sports Program, which fields about 470 athletes in boys and girls basketball, boxing and track and field. The Georgia Blazers under-17 elite basketball team operated under the program and was coached by Parks and Recreation director Tony Adams. In the breakdown of the Innovative Sports Program, the auditor recommended that the city stop funding the travel teams and they be funded or sponsored by a non-governmental source.

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