Summerville, Ga., businesses linked to education fraud investigation

Summerville, Ga., businesses linked to education fraud investigation

May 15th, 2015 by Tyler Jett in Local Regional News

 

When a school district employee stole money from a government fund, prosecutors say, the cash flowed to his family's Summerville, Ga., businesses.

Last month, Rome Judicial Circuit District Attorney Leigh Patterson filed a racketeering complaint against former Floyd County Schools Director of Maintenance Derry Scott Richardson, saying investigators learned that Richardson and unnamed co-conspirators defrauded the school system of more than $600,000.

On Tuesday, Patterson added a list of people who he said benefited from the "theft ring," including Richardson's wife, his parents, his brother and his sister-in-law. Patterson also included five family businesses: DSR Properties, Henderson Real Estate, Summerville Building and Supply, Richardson Enterprises of Georgia and Open Road Hot Shots, a trucking company.

"The defendants ... engaged in and committed at least two or more acts of racketeering activity," Patterson wrote in a Floyd County Superior Court filing. "The relationship between the defendants [in Floyd County] and others constitutes an 'enterprise.'"

Derry Richardson's attorney, Bobby Lee Cook, did not return calls seeking comment Thursday. A woman answering the phone at Richardson's parents' house hung up when a reporter identified himself. And Richardson's brother, Dwayne, said he could not comment or give the Times Free Press the name of his attorney until next week.

Floyd County Police Chief Bill Shiflett said schools Superintendent Jeff McDaniel asked his department in October to investigate whether employees committed fraud. The detectives found that, dating back at least until 2007, Richardson and others gave their bosses inflated invoices, sneaking away with more than $600,000, court filings show.

Richardson spent the money on himself, buying a chandelier and kitchen appliance for his home, according to Patterson's complaint.

On April 9, five days before Patterson filed a complaint against Richardson in court, the Floyd County Board of Education held a special called meeting.

In addition to Richardson, Lead Maintenance Specialist William McCary, Director of School Improvement Terri Snelling and Operations Coordinator Robert Watson resigned.

Chief of Operations Samuel Sprewell also announced his retirement. Other than Richardson, no other employees have been named in Patterson's complaint.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation's financial unit, which performs audits of suspects and their businesses, is helping Floyd County police on the case. Shiflett believes it will take 12-18 more months to understand the scope of the fraud.

Patterson has not sought criminal penalties, filing the complaints in civil court instead.

Derry Richardson's brother, Dwayne Richardson, is the owner of four of the businesses involved, including Summerville Building and Supplies.

According to the Georgia Secretary of State website, that business dates back to 1971.

Chattooga County property records show that Dwayne Richardson owns 28 parcels of land that combined are worth $400,000.

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at tjett@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476.


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