HomeLatest NewsExplosive Corruption Scandal in Georgia County Shows Why Local Elections Are Crucial

Explosive Corruption Scandal in Georgia County Shows Why Local Elections Are Crucial

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I have lived in Newton County for the majority of my adult life. You might recognize the country’s sights and sounds from many of the films and television productions that have made it famous.

Like any community, ours has had its share of intrigue and scandal. For a long period, local politics was dominated by an old boys (and girls) club. In the 1990s, Covington’s first female mayor, who was also the county seat, faced scandals during her tenure. (Our second woman mayor is a good friend who does an incredible job. She cares more about what people think of her than about herself.

The county has been the scene of our biggest corruption. We are still reeling over a corrupt ex-county attorney who had a retainer of a million dollars per year, even though he pushed for projects that enriched his pocket. He was still paid by certain county departments for his services.

Newton has changed from a Republican-leaning to a Democrat-leaning area in recent years due to the demographic shifts that have occurred on the west side. No Republicans ran in many countywide elections this year because they knew that they couldn’t win. However, among Democratic candidates, there were two distinct camps: those who supported the former attorney, and those who distanced themselves from him.

Unfortunately, Democrats in Newton County are also guilty of plenty of corruption. Last week, a federal Grand Jury indicted Newton County Board of Commissioners Chair Marcello Banes as well as local attorney Stephanie Lindsey for money laundering.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, “This case involves a public servant who broke the public’s faith to enrich himself and a real estate agent who didn’t serve her client but assisted the public officer in breaking the laws.”

The press release reveals the corruption.

In 2018, the JDA [Joint Development Authority] (a four-county authority charged with attracting industrial investment in the area) received an expression of interest from a company named “Company” to purchase approximately 40 acres for commercial development. Banes responded by coordinating an agreement between Company A, Lindsey, and CSL Realty Group. Company A agreed to pay Lindsey $150,000 once the purchase of the parcel was completed.

Indictment: Banes and Lindsey misled Company A at the time of entering this brokerage agreement by making it believe that the commission only belonged to Lindsey. Banes and Lindsey did not inform Company A that Lindsey was going to pay Banes the majority of the commission, which was conditional on the JDA approving the sale. If the owners of Company A had known Banes was going to receive any commission, they wouldn’t have signed the brokerage agreement.

Lindsey won the Democrat primaries for District 3 Commissioner in November, with no Republican candidates. Banes defeated his primary opponent to run in the general elections unopposed. Newton County voters who voted at the primary election in May would have made a different choice if they knew how corrupt these candidates were.

The Newton County Sheriff’s Office is the source of the most corruption. In May, I told you about an incident involving a prisoner who escaped deputies in a local hospital. Incompetence in the department was exacerbated by the sheriff’s lack of transparency and accountability.

Recently, the sheriff’s office arrested a member of its own. Akima Martin (31), a detention officer, was arrested last week for an inappropriate relationship she had with a female prisoner. The sheriff’s department is not only dealing with bad employee behavior.

I asked for the number of lawsuits that the NCSO has faced during the 15 years Sheriff Ezell Brown has led the department. I still haven’t gotten a response. The NCSO is currently battling two lawsuits worth $6 million. The NCSO is currently battling two lawsuits totaling $6 million. One is a $1,000,000 suit that involves a car accident involving a deputy. But it’s the other $5 million lawsuit I’m interested in.

According to the lawsuit filed, on July 8, 2023, in the early morning hours, Deputy George Rahming approached a woman looking for a lift. She accepted his offer to ride in his car and then he bought her some snacks and drinks at a convenience shop, before asking her to do lewd things on him. He said, “I don’t intend to arrest you. I just want a **.” When she denied being a prostitute he said, “I do not intend to arrest you.

Rahming raped the woman in a wooded region near a middle school. The lawsuit then alleges the following, which is quite shocking:

Ms. Jennings watched two police cars arrive at the scene, but they turned quickly around and drove off. Rahming told her, “When one of us is parked here, people leave us alone.” They know what happens.”

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation detained Rahming and the NCSO terminated him. The suit claims that NCSO’s problems go beyond just a bad deputy. It states that “the County or NCSO had a policy, custom, practice, or procedure that allowed and could have encouraged NCSO officers to engage in criminal activities with Newton County citizens, including” the plaintiff.

I hope, pray, and of course vote for change in this county that I have called home for many years. To be fair, we pay a lot more attention to “big” election results. These are the ones with the biggest impact. I’ll tell you: local elections are important. Remember to vote in local elections as well.

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