WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WJBF) – Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams publicly addressing allegations made in a county newspaper about him refusing to turn over more than 400 thousand dollars in grant money to county commissioners.
He says he’s not turning over that money awarded to the sheriff’s office because the county commissioners were not a part of any talks, negotiations, or agreements when applying for that funding or after it was awarded.
Sheriff Williams says when the his budget was cut by 750-thousand dollars he had no other choice but to look elsewhere for funding— and he took it upon himself to apply for grants to make up the different
“I am offended, I am truly offended that the owner of the newspaper would’ve allowed this type of reckless reporting to be published,” said Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams.
Sheriff Williams is referring to an article written in the TrueCitizen.
In that article, it alleges that he is misusing and hiding funds awarded to the sheriff’s office by grants from both Plant Vogtle and the Waynesboro Housing Authority.
Sheriff Williams said, “Let me say this to you, and to all of our constituents, all of our viewers. We did not hide any grant funding. We have never hid any money.
We have made our bank statements available to the county and to the county’s auditor.”
He says, The TrueCitizen cited several charges made to his daughter, an attorney, and several other payments totaling almost 100 thousand dollars.
NewsChannel 6 obtained a copy of those bank statements dating back to April of 2021 and asked the Sheriff in person about those charges.
He pointed out that he had to hire an attorney for the Burke County Sherriff’s Office when he was filing his mandamus action against county commissioners and could not use the county’s attorney for that and when it comes to making payments to his daughter, he says she was an intern with the sheriff’s office.
“My daughter was out on break from college and as we have done with many interns, probably 10 in this office over the past five years, 10 and I don’t have 10 children. We have paid our interns when we were able to do it, we paid them through a fund,” said Sheriff Williams.
He says in that instance none of that money was from government funding.
Other payments included Pizza Hut, Lanier’s Meat Shop and for those he says when hosting events at the Sheriff’s office they will provide food and pay for that food.
He says these allegations are an act of retaliation from county commissioners as a result of that mandamus action he filed back in April of 2021.
I spoke with their attorney Barry Fleming.
“This year unfortunately, the sheriff did not turn the money over to the county as he is required to do by Georgia law, but instead deposited that money into his own accounts,” said Barry Fleming the county attorney.
Fleming says that in years prior those grants were awarded to the county and the county is supposed to appropriate that money to the sheriff’s office as needed.
And when it comes to a budget cut for the sheriff’s office, Fleming says that’s not true.
“The commissioners for Burke County have increased, the sheriff’s budget since he’s been in office by now close to 90 something percent. A four-to-five-million-dollar increase. The Burke County’s Sheriff’s office is one of he best funded sheriff’s office in the state,” said Fleming.
I asked the attorney if there are plans to sue Sheriff Williams, Barry Fleming tells me they are bending over backwards to not take that course of action.
They have scheduled an audit with the city’s auditor over those bank statements for Monday, and I do plan to be there if allowed.
Full presser below: