Georgia AG’s Office asks GBI to investigate Macon-Bibb mayoral candidate Cliffard Whitby for possible theft, forgery

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is actively investigating payments owed to the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority.

Todd Crosby, Special Agent in Charge of the GBI’s Region 13 Office in Perry, confirmed the investigation Wednesday afternoon.

“On March 2 of this year, Attorney General Chris Carr requested the GBI Perry Office do an investigation regarding allegations of theft, forgery and false statements at the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority,” Crosby said by phone.

“At this time, the primary focus of the GBI investigation will be the three companies used to complete work for the Macon-Bibb Industrial Authority,” a GBI news release said. “Those three companies are Armstead Management, Integrated Technology Consulting, and New Age Concepts and Consulting.  The allegations are that work was not done; however, invoices for work were submitted and funds were paid to the companies reflecting that work was completed.”

A letter to GBI director Vic Reynolds, written and signed by Deputy Attorney General Blair McGowan on March 2, requested the GBI “open an investigation into possible theft, forgery and false statements involving former chairman/executive director of the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority, Cliffard Whitby, and three companies owned by Whitby’s family members.”

41NBC emailed the Attorney General’s office to ask what prompted the AG’s Office to ask the GBI to investigate, and a spokesperson for the AG’s Office said the office was unable to comment on active investigations.

Whitby is one of five candidates in the upcoming race for Macon-Bibb mayor.

41NBC first reported in April 2018 that the MBCIA was seeking $1.9 million from three construction companies. The industrial authority claimed it paid the companies more than it was supposed to for certain jobs dating back to 2015.

The MBCIA says it discovered multiple projects were paid for, but there was no proof of them actually being completed.

The dispute started after MBCIA launched an investigation following Whitby’s resignation. Whitby resigned from his position as chairman of the industrial authority in 2017 after a federal grand jury indicted him for bribery and money laundering in a separate case. The indictment said Whitby paid former Bibb School Superintendent, Romain Dallemand, around $400,000 over the course of six years. Whitby was acquitted of those charges in October 2018.

Through an open records request, 41NBC obtained a letter MBCIA’s attorney, Kevin Brown sent to Armstead Management, LLC; New Age Concept and Consulting, LLC; and WM Construction in April 2018, which said in part “Indeed, in some instances, the buildings where the work was purportedly performed did not even exist.”

In May 2018, 41NBC reported the three contractors’ attorney, Chip Collins, responded to the MBCIA in a letter, claiming the companies were not going to reimburse the MBCIA the $1,878,899 it’s demanding. Collins stated the MBCIA’s demands are baseless and politically motivated attacks against Whitby.

A 2017 MBCIA audit showed that Whitby violated a code of ethics while in office. Auditors found that Whitby’s brother-in-law is an officer of Armstead and that Whitby’s daughter is an officer of New Age Concepts and Consulting, LLC. During Whitby’s time in office, the MBCIA paid Armstead $1,477,404 and New Age $1,195,947.

When reached by phone, current MBCIA Executive Director Stephen Adams said he could not comment on pending litigation.

Whitby responds to investigation

We called Whitby for his response to the investigation, and he responded with the following text message:

Tucker,

As a man who has been fully vindicated of all federal charges as you have already stated in your recent article, I reiterate, that I and my family are pleased to have gone through the judicial process of these United States, had all of the evidence presented and come out fully vindicated.  Anyone who ever attempts to do anything of substance will always have enemies.  In this current political environment, it does not surprise me that after three years some would choose to bring up these old allegations at the Industrial Authority that were fully reviewed previously.  To be brief, I stand on the work and achievements that were made under my leadership while at the Industrial Authority.   As you know, my platform is on Equity, Balance and Fair-play and this is what this boils down to.  I trust that the citizens of Macon-Bibb can see this for what it is – a politically motivated attack.   My focus however, is on the real issues of this community which continues to suffer from economic disparities, blight, substandard education, crime and other issues, and on creating a plan that can spur economic growth and prosperity for all of our community.   For me, failure to do so is not an option.

Regards.

Cliffard Whitby

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