GOV’T EMPLOYEE THEFT SEEMS TO BE ON THE RISE

September 25, 2016

Illegal

Does this happen because of a lack of supervision or it is that a blind eye is turned when suspicions are raised?  Or is it both?

The article below from the Newton Citizen, outlines how former Newton County fire chief Kevin O’Brien, according to District Attorney Layla Zon, unlawfully charged $16,991.70 in merchandise to the county.  (That’s called stealing!)

O’Brien faces a maximum sentence of 15 years on each count or a total of 60 years in prison. The charges against O’Brien are felonies because they involve a government employee.

We present this article to Jasper County readers because Sherry Braley, a government employee, “misappropriated” and/or “converted to personal use” over $15,000 in county funds.  (That’s also called stealing!)

It will be interesting to see what O’Brien’s sentence is and compare it to the sentence Sherry Braley receives in Jasper County.  Her hearing will be in November according to District Attorney Brent Cochran.

Former Newton County fire chief O’Brien pleads guilty to four felonies

http://www.newtoncitizen.com/news/local/former-newton-county-fire-chief-o-brien-pleads-guilty-to/article_5fdbe4f5-57b2-5652-8333-6c27f25265b7.html

By Alice Queen

alice.queen@rockdalecitizen.com

Updated Sep 22, 2016

COVINGTON — Former Newton County fire chief Kevin O’Brien pleaded guilty to four felony counts of theft by taking Thursday in Newton County Superior Court.

O’Brien was accused of using the county’s purchasing card to buy items for his personal use over a period of four years, from 2012 through 2015. According to District Attorney Layla Zon, O’Brien unlawfully charged $16,991.70 in merchandise to the county.

Judge Horace Johnson postponed sentencing in the case until Oct. 6. O’Brien’s attorney, Steven M. Frey, said he expects to present witnesses at the sentencing hearing in an effort to mitigate O’Brien’s sentence. He also said he expects O’Brien to be able to make some restitution to the county at that time.

“We are circling the wagons to see if we can amass that amount of money,” said Frey.

O’Brien faces a maximum sentence of 15 years on each count or a total of 60 years in prison. The charges against O’Brien are felonies because they involve a government employee.

Zon said the case grew out of an anonymous tip received by the Newton County Sheriff’s Office in May 2014. She said an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the District Attorney’s Office revealed that O’Brien had used the county P-card to purchase numerous items related to household upkeep and landscaping, including ceiling fans, door knobs, fencing, pool chemicals, outdoor lighting, tools and more. Many of the purchases were made on weekends at Home Depot.

In addition, Zon said O’Brien used the card to purchase camping equipment and two inflatable kayaks that he brought to the Fire Department only after the investigation was underway.

O’Brien entered a non-negotiated plea on Thursday, which means that the judge is not bound by any sentencing recommendation that the District Attorney’s Office may make. O’Brien also waived his right to withdraw the guilty plea and indicated in court that he did not wish to go to trial.

O’Brien answered questions from the judge and district attorney with a quiet “yes, ma’am,” or “yes, sir.” He declined to comment following the hearing.

O’Brien was named Newton County fire chief in December 2012 after having served as interim chief since of May of that year. He was placed on administrative leave without pay on Oct. 14, 2015, pending review of the allegations that he had misused the county P-card. O’Brien subsequently hired Atlanta civil rights attorney A. Lee Parks Jr. to represent him, which resulted in the county agreeing to pay O’Brien his full salary and benefits from Oct. 14 through Nov. 17, plus an additional 60 days of pay and benefits.

In exchange, O’Brien agreed to release the county and its current and former officers and employees and the Newton County Board of Commissioners from “any and all claims that were or might have been brought” against them related to O’Brien’s employment or his being placed on unpaid leave. O’Brien also agreed to voluntarily resign from his position, effective Jan. 17, 2016.

Likewise, under the agreement Newton County released O’Brien from any and all claims or causes of action related to his employment with the county, excluding any non-civil restitution that may be ordered.

O’Brien began his career in fire services in 1993 as a volunteer for the Salem Volunteer Fire Department. He came to the Newton County Fire Service in 2007 as a deputy chief of operations and training. He previously served as a battalion chief and director of training for the DeKalb County Fire Department.

TWG

http://www.taxdogs.wordpress.com
http://www.facebook.com/taxdogs

 

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One Response to GOV’T EMPLOYEE THEFT SEEMS TO BE ON THE RISE

  1. If the Administration Is Corrupt The Employees Will Follow says:

    “Does this happen because of a lack of supervision or it is that a blind eye is turned when suspicions are raised? Or is it both?”
    Both, plus the overt corruption now prevalent in county government will attract the very type of miscreant that honest government tends to reject. County administrators who operate on the shady side are not interested in hiring the brazenly honest.
    Employees who refuse to compromise their moral and ethical principles do not make good department heads for those willing to deceive and defraud the county. Here the old adage rings true.Water will always seek it’s own level

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