Ten people have been arrested in Floyd County, Georgia for their involvement in a racketeering scheme that embezzled $4 million from Floyd County Schools over ten years.
A former maintenance director, Derry Richardson, was arrested, along with Richardson's wife, brother, and father and other past employees of the district, writes William Thorton of the Alabama Media Group.
Floyd County police's Major Jeff Jones said the group used padded invoices and gave themselves the overcharged money. They then funneled the money through intermediary sources and then back to their group.
After 18 months, investigators have traced the $4 million, but have been able to recover only approximately $1.7 million in assets and money. Among the items seized were two duplex apartments worth $100,000 each, Richardson's home, valued at over $525,000, and 60 firearms.
Floyd County Schools Superintendent John Jackson stated that the district was recovering from the ordeal and is putting new procedures and policies in place to protect funds meant to educate students, which they say are currently working well. Jackson added that the district will be ever watchful of the resources needed for the young people it serves.
Jones told Liz Artz of WSB-TV that he believed Richardson took the job with the district for the sole reason of stealing the money. He also stated that of the ten people who were arrested, some admitted to their part in the crime and others claimed their innocence.
"A way to make money. I think he's done it before. And I think that he left the company â¦ left for that purpose to come to the board of education to take the money," Jones said.
Police are likely to find more suspects who were involved in the plot and anticipate that some of the charges against the group could result in as much as 20 years in prison.
According to Jones, it is rare in a case like this one to ever recover all the money that was embezzled. But the fact that $4 million was found probably means that there is more money to locate.
The school employees and their family members pulled off the largest racketeering scheme the county has ever seen. WGCL-TV's Daniel Wilkerson reports the charges were a violation of the US Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The measure was passed in 1970 and was created to fight against organized crime in America.
The alleged perpetrators also violated Georgia's Records and Reports of Currency Transaction laws. The suspects also spent taxpayer money on such items as drones and vehicles.
A neighbor of Richardson, Joseph Plant, told WGCL that Richardson admitted that he was guilty, but added that the crime was so easy to execute that it would have been difficult for him to refuse the temptation. Plant also said that Richardson told him that the police and reporters were wrong about the amount of money that was taken.
"He admitted to me that he did wrong, saying that âit was just too easy'," said Plant. "He says he doesn't know where they came up with that ($4 million) number. He admitted he took money but not $4 million."
The group was to appear in court on Friday morning.