BURKE COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) – A new Burke County independent audit for 2022 spending has been ordered, which officials say has cited the lack of budgetary controls over the Sheriff’s Office as problematic.

Officials say this is leading to significantly overbudget in the department.

News Channel 6 reached out to Sheriff Alfonzo Williams for an official statement in regards to the audit:

We have received several requests for comments related to 2024 budgetary matters, a recent audit report, departmental spending, legal representation, and reporting by other news sources.  We have been very proactive and transparent in our reporting of matters concerning the sheriff’s office.  Each day, I am focused on the priorities of the Office of Sheriff and my constitutional duties and responsibilities.  I must have the requisite funding, resources, and tools to get the job done.  I will not do law enforcement badly!  The deputies and citizenry are depending on me to keep my promises to provide a better quality of life in Burke County.  I have done so over the past seven years and will continue on this trajectory in the coming term.  All of our actions and decisions are predicated on our commitment to serve mankind. 

Our weekly radio address on 929 The Soul Mine, weekly podcasts on our Facebook page, BCSO YouTube Channel, BCSO LinkedIn page, BCSO Instagram, and other social platforms offer insight into our position on all matters related to the sheriff’s office.  Our constituency has expressed a desire to see the sheriff’s office and the county government work together for their well-being.  They have asked that we stop the back-and-forth infighting.  Therefore, I do not see the necessity of offering other mediums to provide information outside of what we are doing to get our side of the issues out to the public.  Our website offers an annual report for each year we have served in office, which details our progress.  We are committed to keeping our county safe, and protecting families, futures, and finances as is evidenced by a better educated/trained staff, low crime rate, a greater feeling of safety, enhanced partnerships and relationships with stakeholders, and a commitment to service, safety, and solutions using the latest and best practices in the most efficient and effective ways possible. 

Sheriff Alfonzo Williams

Perry-area Law Firm has been cited to be representing Sheriff Williams in the dispute regarding the budget.

However, according to officials, taxpayers are being asked to pay the bill for the Sheriff’s individual counsel, because “as the county attorney represents the county, he cannot represent Sheriff Williams due to his ethical conflict of interest.”

The letter goes on to cite Georgia law and assert “that the county provide individual legal counsel to Sheriff Williams and that the county pay the fees of such counsel and all applicable costs in accordance” with state law.

Burke County Board of Commissioners was sent the letter Tuesday, September 12th.  

The letter cites the ongoing budget proceedings in Burke County when it gives a September 15th deadline for the county to grant the request.

Sheriff Williams previously sued Burke County in 2021 claiming he was not allowed to handle his own payroll for his deputies. 

In early 2022, Augusta Judicial Circuit Judge Jesse Stone ruled against Sheriff Williams and in favor of Burke County, allowing the Board of Commissioners should continue to handle payroll matters for the deputies.

There will be a 2023 Budget Hearing Wednesday night, Sept. 13th, at 6:30 p.m. in the Old Courthouse at 602 Liberty Street in downtown Waynesboro.

To read the official findings in the audit, read below:



2022-1 Lack of internal controls over expenditures for Sheriff’s Department

Condition: During our audit we noted that there were not sufficient budgetary controls over the Sheriff’s Office’s budget. The Commissioner’s office is not able to reject a purchase order for the Sheriff’s Office if an item is overbudget due to rights given to elected officials in the Official Code of Georgia to control their own budget, and there are no compensating controls.

Criteria: Proper internal controls related to budgetary control are necessary in all governmental entities in all departments.

Cause: Sheriff Williams refuses to follow the County’s budget policies and fails to have a policy that provides effective compensating controls.

Effect: The Sheriff’s Department’s expenditures were significantly over budget.

Auditor’s Recommendation: While constitutional officers have control of and final responsibility for the use of their budget once funds have been appropriated by the Board of Commissioners, proper internal controls over spending are still necessary in order to ensure the accuracy and appropriateness of all expenditures, as well as proper stewardship over public funds. Those controls should include transaction approval and also budgetary controls. While the Sheriff has control over his budget, there is still a responsibility to ensure adequate internal controls and make efforts to stay within the limits of his budgeted appropriation. In our opinion, the most effective practice is to follow the County’s internal control policies over budgetary control, as the County is the Sheriff’s appointed fiscal agent.

View of Responsible Officials and Planned Corrective Actions: Management concurs with the finding and will work with the appropriate officials on corrective action.

2022-2 Unrecorded grant funds

Condition: During the fiscal year ended September 30, 2022, the Sheriff’s office received a significant amount of grant funding that was deposited into a separate account opened by the Sheriff’s office without the knowledge of the County Commissioners’ Office. Funds from confiscated assets, sheriff’s commissions, and private donations were also deposited into this separate account. The portion of these funds that remained unspent have been turned over and deposited into accounts held by the Burke County Board of Commissioners. In addition, audit adjustments were made to reflect the use of those funds within the appropriate County Special Revenue fund.

Criteria: As the fiscal agent for the Sheriff’s Office, an accounting of all public funds, including those of the Sheriff’s Office, should be prepared by the Board of Commissioners.

Cause: The Sheriff felt that he was within his rights to open these accounts and spend these funds as he deemed appropriate without a budget or internal controls as an elected official.

Effect: The funds deposited in these accounts were not accounted for by the County Commissioner’s office during the fiscal year as the fiscal agent for the Sheriff’s office, and there was no oversight or internal controls in place over the use of these funds.

Auditor’s Recommendation: All County funds should be deposited within accounts held by the Burke County Board of Commissioners as the fiscal agent for the Sheriff’s Office in order to ensure proper use of the funds and complete financial reporting.

View of Responsible Officials and Planned Corrective Actions: Management concurs with the finding and will work with the appropriate officials on corrective action.

2022-3 Lack of supporting documentation for expenditures paid by the Sheriff’s Department from unauthorized accounts.

Condition: As previously noted, the Sheriff’s Office deposited a large amount of public funds into a newly opened checking account that the Commissioner’s Office was not aware of. Many of the expenditures from this account lacked adequate supporting documentation. The Sheriff’s Office kept no support for credit card charges, and a significant portion of those charges were for meals and out of town travel. It should be noted that these expenses related to travel and meals were not present in the prior year and that there is currently an ongoing investigation by law enforcement related to the use of these funds.

Criteria: Adequate supporting documentation should be retained for all expenditures, regardless of how they are paid. Adequate supporting documentation must include a detailed receipt for all transactions whenever possible. A line item on a credit card statement is only proof of payment and not actual substantiation of the transaction.

Cause: There were no internal controls over expenditures from the accounts opened by the Sheriff’s Office without approval from the Board of Commissioners as their fiscal agent. All checks were written directly from the Sheriff’s Office, and therefore there was no oversight.

Effect: The Sheriff’s Office spent a significant amount of County funds for which there is no substantiation available. A significant amount was spent for transactions that have a high level of inherent fraud risk, such as travel and lodging, as well as meals. Some of these travel and meal expenses were also related to conferences at which the Sheriff was engaged as an instructor.

Auditor’s Recommendation: All expenditures from County funds should be processed by the Commissioner’s Office as the fiscal agent for the Sheriff’s Office. If the Sheriff’s Office refuses to follow the County’s policy related to the use of funds, then other acceptable policies should be put into place that ensure proper stewardship and the appropriate use of all public funds.

View of Responsible Officials and Planned Corrective Actions: Management concurs with the finding and will work with the appropriate officials on corrective action.

2022-4 Unrecorded Proceeds from Confiscated Assets

Condition: It was noted during our audit that cash for confiscated assets held by the previous administration at the Sheriff’s Office for which Sheriff Williams took custody at the start of his administration were never reported in the financial statements or deposited into the Confiscated Assets account.

Criteria: All public funds of any nature should be accounted for by the Burke County Board of Commissioners.

Cause: The Board of Commissioners were never made aware of these funds.

Effect: Confiscated assets were not reported within the County’s audited financial statements and assets were underreported. Those funds have now been deposited within the Confiscated Assets fund and have been taken into consideration in the audit for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2022.

Auditor’s Recommendation: All County funding should be accounted for by the Commissioners’ Office as the fiscal agent for the Sheriff’s Office. Due to the high inherent fraud risk related to cash, the County should consider asking the Sheriff’s Office to disclose to them on a regular basis all Confiscated Assets and the related court-ordered disposition of assets. As a further measure in response to the level of risk associated with these funds, the County could ask for copies of all court orders related to assets confiscated by the Sheriff’s office on at least an annual basis.

View of Responsible Officials and Planned Corrective Actions: Management concurs with the finding and will work with the appropriate officials on corrective action.