COLUMBUS, GA (WXTX) - Columbus City Manager Isaiah Hugley is breaking his silence about the Columbus Parks and Recreation scandal. Director Tony Adams and Recreation Specialist Herman Porter were arrested and fired after the allegations surfaced. And now more than a year after the Parks and Rec scandal came about -- Columbus City Manager Isaiah Hugley is finally speaking out about the fraud that took place.
But the question on many people's minds is, why did he wait until now to say something? "We need to move in the direction of closure on this matter and I felt it was time to speak now that the final audit was coming," answered Hugley.
That audit was formally presented to city council, showing that the $200,000 being put into a separate bank account for years took place completely under the radar. It also brought up the question of checks and balances. City Manager Isaiah Hugley responded, "When there is criminal behavior, that's a person who's gotten into the system, they've studied the system, they think they understand the system, and they come up with clever ways to work around the system so they won't get caught. They may go for a while and not get caught, but eventually they will and that's what happened in this case."
The investigation lead to the arrest of Parks and Rec Director Tony Adams, and Recreation Specialist Herman Porter and brought about a lot of questions for Hugley and other city government officials. But could more leaders be involved in this case?
Hugley said, "If there was something out there related to this or other people involved I think they would have identified them with the time and commitment they put into this investigation. It put the city government, our elected officials and our employees in a bad light and I think it was unfair to all of us."
Now the current mayor and city council members are left with the mess Adams and Porter left behind.
Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson told News Leader Nine, "This conspiracy has been in existence for 15 years: that's two city managers, nearly four mayors and numerous city councilors. I don't excuse it. I want people to catch everything every time. At this point, yes I have faith in our entire team. But my eyes and ears are open, and should I hear anything further or additional details, I can assure you they will be investigated."
Tony Adams and Herman Porter were ordered to pay restitution to the city for their crime. The probation office confirms those payments are being paid monthly. Isaiah Hugley tells us the money will not go to the Parks and Recreation Department, it will go into the city's general fund.