Defendant in Bibb County bribery case testifies: ‘I’m the victim here’

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – A defendant in the bribery case involving former Bibb County leaders took the stand Monday morning.

Tallahassee attorney, Harold Knowles, testified in his own defense after being accused of bribing former Bibb County School superintendent Dr. Romain Dallemand. Dallemand claims Knowles and former Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority chairman/director, Cliffard Whitby conspired to bribe him and launder money.

Monday afternoon, Knowles told the jury none of what Dallemand claims happened. Knowles said he met Dallemand through a mutual friend and later learned of Dallemand’s community initiative, Macon Miralce. Knowles, who was the city attorney in Gretna, Florida, wanted to implement a similar initiative in his city. He said that is when he started working with Dallemand.

Knowles stated that in 2012, Dallemand asked him to put $100,000 in Knowles’ law firm’s trust fund. Knowles said Dallemand told him it was for real estate he was looking for in Florida. Knowles also said that although the cashier’s check did not state who it was from, to his knowledge, it was from Dallemand. About a week later, Dallemand asked for the money back because he changed his mind, according to Knowles.

Knowles claimed that six weeks later, Whitby called him to say that the $100,000 put into the trust fund actually belonged to Positiventures, Whitby’s company. Knowles said he withdrew money from his company, Pinnacle’s account, and put it in his own personal account to return the money to Whitby. Knowles said he called Dallemand to ask “what the h*ll?” He says Dallemand told him it was all a misunderstanding and he would return the money, but Knowles claimed he never did.

“I’m out $100,000 because of the lies of Romain Dallemand,” Knowles said in court. He continued by saying, “I’m the victim.”

In Dallemand’s testimony, he claimed the $100,000 was bribe money from Whitby and Knowles was used as the middle man. Knowles denied that he ever worked to conspire with Whitby. Dallemand also stated that Knowles was going to give him part of his company, Pinnacle, in exchange for contracts with the Bibb County School District.

Knowles also denied that deal. He stated that he was going to sell Dallemand 24 shares of his company and that Dallemand would pay him. According to Knowles, Dallemand never paid him, so he never got the shares.

The defense rested its case Monday afternoon. Whitby did not testify. Closing statements are expected to begin Tuesday morning. Stay with 41NBC for developments on the case.


Categories: Bibb County, Local News

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