“No evidence has been presented to show any violation of code of Judicial Ethics by Judge Weaver. Instead, the evidence appears to show a personal dislike of the Judge.”
Last week the Georgia Judicial Qualification Commission dismissed the complaint against Appalachian Judicial District Chief Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver.
“The complaint of Thomason, Stookey, Doss and the GCSPJ are without any basis in law or fact. The complaints are nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to enlist the JQC in their fixation upon harming Judge Weaver. The JQC will have no further part in it. All complaints are hereby dismissed.”
The complaint was submitted to the JQC by Mark Thomason, former publisher of the Fannin Focus, his attorney Russell Stookey and Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss.
In the JQC conclusions they addressed the Georgia Chapters Society of Professionals Journalist complaint that Weaver mounted an attack on freedom of the press.
“Calling oneself a “journalist” and “reporter” should not be a cover for pursuing personal vendettas.”
Stookey and Thomason with the assistance of Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss raised a complaint to the FBI to initiate an investigation.
JQC, “The FBI investigated the allegations raised by Stookey and Thomason but found no wrongdoing.”
On June 15th Atlanta Attorney Gerry Weber, representing Russell Stookey and Mark Thomason, sent a demand letter and Ante Litem Notice to Judge Brenda Weaver, District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee and Pickens County Board of Commissioners.
Part of Weber’s summary of claim, “This case has already garnered national attention. It involves breathtaking abuse of power by a Judge, prosecutor, and law enforcement who manipulated the criminal justice system to wage a personal vendetta against a local newspaper publisher and his attorney.”
Weber’s claim for damages conclusion, “Further accounting for damages stemming from the emotional distress in false arrest and malicious prosecution and for the punitive damages due to egregiousness of the actions leading to the arrests, Stookey’s and Thomason’s damages exceed 1,000,000.”
How far will this case go considering the FBI and JQC have closed their investigation both dismissing the possible charge of wrongdoing.
BLUE RIDGE, GA – An executive session was held at the September 12 Board of Commissioners regular meeting.
After a little over half an hour, Commissioners along with Finance Director Robin Gazaway returned to the regular meeting room. It had been discovered that the majority of Fannin County’s elected official’s had been receiving an incorrect salary.
Gazaway stated, “In the process of doing the 2018 budget, I had come to realize that several of the elected officials salaries were incorrect.”
With the exception of three individuals, all other elected officials were inaccurate. The majority of these discrepancies were in an underpayment of salary with only one position being slightly overpaid. To correct this mistake, through September of this year, the county would have to pay $7,500 in restitution.
Post Two Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee commented, “We are running into all kinds of discrepancies from…our past is coming back to haunt us…our past administration.” He added, “And this is just one more in the page that we’re turning over.”
Post One Commissioner Earl Johnson questioned whose salaries were where they were supposed to be, and Gazaway replied that the Sheriff, Commission Chairman, and Coroner’s were correct.
Johnson further questioned as to who specifically was being underpaid, and Gazaway listed those receiving underpayment as the Tax Commissioner, Magistrate Court Judge, Probate Court Judge, Clerk of Court, and the two Post Commissioners.
The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to correct salary payments, which will take effect at the beginning of October. They also voted to make retroactive payments to those that had been underpaid.
Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at [email protected]
Fetch Your News covered four of our local counties graduation ceremonies this weekend as well as some great Memorial Day ceremonies. In this segment BKP shows a few pictures from each graduation and from each of the Memorial Day celebrations. He ends the segment Thanking all the men and women who have given their lives so that we can all enjoy the freedoms that we do daily. He makes a special Thank you to 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, Department of Homeland Security head General John Kelly’s son, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010.
Our interview Friday with Speaker of The House David Ralston focused on rural Georgia. Ralston went into detail about the new Rural Georgia Economic Council. This council will be co-chaired by (R) Terry England from Auburn, (R) Jay Powell from Camilla and Vice Chair (R) Sam Watson from Moultry. The council will be holding meetings across Georgia to hear from elected officials, local businesses and citizens about how they feel rural Georgia economy can best be improved. Ralston said jokingly that he better not find out that one meeting took place in Atlanta.
Health care is a major concern in rural Georgia. Several hospitals have closed in rural Georgia areas including one in Ralston’s district in North Georgia. We spoke to Ralston abut one possible solution to meet rural Georgia health care needs. Ralston used the example of the first stand alone emergency room, opened by Piedmont Mountainside Hospital in Gilmer county. In this interview we asked Ralston if Gilmer county still had the possibility of having a full hospital.
Ralston told us that sometime within the next month Governor Nathan Deal would be visiting Gilmer county’s Fire Station 1 to sign the fire fighter’s workmen’s compensation bill. We asked Ralston the difference in this years campus carry bill opposed to last year’s bill which Governor Deal vetoed. Not being able to speak for the Governor, Ralston said he felt they made the changes necessary to get Deal to sign the bill. We also discussed the pay raises agreed upon in the 2017 legislative session for teachers, state law enforcement, and D.F.C.S workers.
Our final question in our interview friday: Speaker Ralston do you see the governor’s mansion in your future?
Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge John Worcester has been named the National CASA Judge of the year. More than seven hundred thousand children experience abuse and neglect each year. Judge Worcester talks about his time as Chief Juvenile Court Judge and his appointment to Superior Court Judge.
Do you know Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong or Thomas Wittenschlaeger?
A fiber optic cable is being run along the Georgia Northeastern Railroad. In this segment we look at the possible agreement between Patriot Rail and Mox Networks LLC to run the fiber optic cable along the rail line. We question – Who is Mox Networks LLC? We question – Who are they running the fiber optic cable for? It looks to be that there are some ties between Mox Networks and Nantworks LLC companies. Stay tuned for more information on this topic from #BKP in the next part of this segment.
Spoiling for a fight. The heated argument between the two city council members Angie Arp and Rhonda Thomas was well on its way before the meeting ever started. Arp obviously took issue with comments Thomas made the previous week concerning City Attorney David Syfan. Arp responded to Thomas’ comments through several early morning e-mails (e-mail text posted below). It reached a boiling point at last nights Blue Ridge City Council Meeting.
At the Blue Ridge City Council meeting on March 14th Councilwoman Angie Arp and Rhonda Thomas get into a heated argument. Arp addressed the council about recent comments concerning legal fees for the city of Blue Ridge. After showing her support for City Attorney David Syfan, Councilwoman Rhonda Thomas, took a different position than Arp’s concerning the legal costs. This resulted in a verbal fight between the two council members. It escalated to a point where council member Rodney Kendall yelled the point of order several times. Arp offered to Thomas to take it outside.
Sent: Sunday, March 12, 2017 3:24 AM
To: Donna Whitener; Rhonda Thomas
Subject: Re: Ada Street v. Blue Ridge – Ct. of Appeals Order Dismissing Appeal – IMPORTANT
My Dear Friends Donna and Rhonda,
How has your deceitful attacks and lies against me worked out for you so far? You LOST! Has it not hit either of you yet, that you have LOST every time you’ve gone against me and the council for that matter. Does it not get old always being on the losing side? Have either of you considered, you may just need to come to the realization that you are not going to ever win against me, no matter how dirty and deceitful you play. How long will you keep trying, it’s been almost four years now and your still getting your tail kicked. Where is the shame in that or better yet where is the pride in that. I like a challenge, but if I couldn’t do better than you’ve done, I believe I would wave the flag, pull may tail between my legs and go home.
I do have another question though, do you not find it odd that despite all your calculating, deceitful planning, orchestrated attempts and lying, you still have not been able to win at anything. Your attacks against me hasn’t effected me at all, except maybe gained me more favor, for being known as someone that don’t play the political game and certainly known as someone that don’t take no sh– from anyone or don’t care who you are or whether you like me or not.
Where is your elite group of supporters, none of you have been able to defeat me and now you’re all laying low, planning for one last attempt. Rhonda, as you have referred to confidently, a “new council” has it ever crossed your mind that you may not be part of the “new council”. Unless your luck changes and you can do something you haven’t been able to do in almost four years. If so, there may be a “new council”, if not, you lose again.
And Rhonda, I guess you’re eating crow right about now, I thought it was funny when an employee reminded me of the day you was in city hall, and so boldly and proudly quoted”Steve is going to win this lawsuit”. Now what do you have to say? Are you still going to strut into city hall, all confident and cocky, as if you’re somebody important? Rhonda Who? I’m curious, did you celebrate at the Black Sheep last night?
Joking aside, I really do hate that you both have cost the tax payers to date, $103,601 on this lawsuit, but one positive thing that may have came out of the lawsuit, is maybe at least it exposed the character of both of you, the trial certainly exposed that you were both not creditable witnesses, which is a polite way to say you’re not trustworthy. Even though you already had the reputation of having a “silver tongue”, and everyone knows about half of what comes out of your mouth, isn’t true, what the courts proved is different, because it involves tax payers money. Both of you went in to court for the sole purpose of lying to help your friend and you did it at the tax payers expense. Do you know how many people may have read the court transcript, and do you have any idea of what one could conclude after reading it?
And as for GMA, who knows what this has cost them. An attorney that has worked for GMA for 35 years said they have never seen elected officials testify for anyone that sued the city, ( the plaintiff) And he’s been around a long time and seen a lot. That says a lot about both of you and I’m sure you both have a really good reputation with GMA now. Donna, it doesn’t matter that you got on a board, due to the fact that no one else wanted to be on it, you will get courtesy, but you have no respect. Just a bug in your ear, for when you mingle at the next Mayor Conference, you have no idea what people really think of you. Just imagine if everyone is like you, untrustworthy, you’ll never know. I heard the rumor was you didn’t compare to the past mayors Blue Ridge has had. I can probably believe that some people may think that, I’ve even had people that actually supported you tell me that. Good grief I supported you and was saying that after about two years too.
Donna, I had hoped you had turned a new leaf, I heard someone at city hall say you said the most important thing in your life was your salvation, you told me that to. But all it takes is for someone to listen to you talk. Half of what you say still is not true, has it just become a bad habit? I have often wondered how you would answer God if he ask you where you lived when you served as mayor of Blue Ridge, what are you going to tell him? Are you going to say Lord, my home (domicile) is at Orvin Lance Drive, a two bedroom, one bath apartment above Town and County Furniture, where I live with 9 other people, but you’ve blessed me an investment property in Staurolite, so I stay there some too!
Its a good day and its good news, I’m just having a little fun with the facts , I was told I needed to get another hobby, other than increasing my portfolio, so maybe I have and maybe its’s beating both of you at your own game. I’ve actually done pretty good so far, don’t you think.
I’ve practically begged and pleaded with both of you, to put the personal aside, forgive and forget and try to get along, but you both seem to have no interest in that and both continue to wage war against me, you just continue to force me to do what I do best, and that’s WIN!
I still would love nothing more than to call a truce, but if you dont want to, I’ll continue to beat you at your own game.
Sent: Tuesday, March 14, 2017 1:16 AM
To: Rodney Kendall; Bruce Pack; Harold Herndon; Rhonda Thomas; Donna Whitener
Cc: Sally Smith; Roy Parsons
Subject: City Attorney Attack
After speaking with several of you individually today about the attack on the city attorney made by Rhonda, I think this should go on the agenda to discuss and clarify at the meeting. We all have information from David that we could use to get the record straight as well. David has done a good job for the city and has represented the council well in a lawsuit that could have been over in a fraction of the time and a fraction of the cost, if it had not been for both Donna and Rhonda’s involvement, starting with an illegal veto.
The council made their decision and it should have been final, and that’s the root of the problem. They want their way as they had it in their first term, neither of them have any respect for the council, the authority of the council, the city attorney, the citizens of Blue Ridge or the tax payers money. There willingness to betray the city and the tax payers in an attempt to help their friends, speaks volumes. Quite frankly the attack on David and the untruthful statements made by Rhonda, frustrate me more than anything she has done toward me. I can handle anything she dishes out at me, but when she starts attacking others, it is disturbing.
We have 9 months to go in this term, lets make sure that this type of thing does not happen again, the majority of the council has all authority. We do not have to allow Donna, Rhonda or anyone tohinder the decisions of the council. We have a lot of things to accomplish in a short amount of time. Please support me in putting a stop to any further hindrances and tactics by either Donna or Rhonda. They have both caused turmoil, strife, and unproductiveness within the city, not to mention the shame brought upon the city for their actions. They have both failed to keep their oath to the people that elected them.
Lets remember the tactics they have attempted in order to defy the council and the tactics the will try in the council meetings in an attempt to promote themselves as the election grows closer. Our meetings are for the majority of the council to make decisions, lets remember our role and adhere to our policy. They will both try to use the meetings as a political chess piece, it will be up to us to keep these meetings in order and run by the policy.
It takes a motion and a second to discuss and if the discussion is not what we want to hear it takes a motion and a second for the council to vote to end discussion.
Let me know if any of you want this on the agenda.
Christmas Puppet Show Announced
The Mountain Regional Puppet Company has announced their show dates for the upcoming Christmas season. The show will debut at the new Mountain Regional Library in Young Harris on December 13, then travel to all the other branches during the remaining week. The show features three classic children’s Christmas books. Animals are featured in Bear Stays Up for Christmas and A Wish to be a Christmas Tree. And then the show finishes with an interpretation of Raymond Briggs’ famous story entitled The Snowman.
In 2016, staff members of the Mountain Regional Library formed a production troupe dedicated to puppet performance. Led by Library Director Vince Stone, this group scripts, choreographs, and performs professional level puppet shows for our community.
The main purpose of these productions is to use puppetry as a creative means to promote literacy and the library. This year’s Christmas production was sponsored by a generous gift from the Friends of Union County Library.
FOUCL president Sally Woodworth says, “We are so proud to help fund this exciting program for our community. The team at Mountain Regional does a wonderful job incorporating books and storytelling in such a unique and entertaining fashion. There are almost as many adults in attendance as there are children. If you haven’t seen them, please come.”
“An innovative aspect of our production is the use of video,” says Stone. “One of the largest challenges in puppetry is making scenic backgrounds and backdrops. By having a huge TV on the back portion
of our stage, we can put the puppets in any setting…a forest, an ocean, a house. Doesn’t matter. This helps the story come alive.”
The 2016 Christmas Show Dates
Mountain Regional Library @ 5 p.m. December 13
Fannin County Public Library @ 5 p.m. December 15
Union County Library @ 11. a.m. December 17
Towns County Library @ 5 p.m. December 19
This show is appropriate for all ages and is free to the public.
“Some would rather climb a tree to tell a lie than stand on the ground and tell the truth” BKP
Monday afternoon July 18th in a Pickens County Courtroom Senior Judge Richard Winegarden signed the nolle prosequi orders dropping the charges against Fannin Focus publisher Mark Thomason and Attorney Russell Stookey.
Thomason and Stookey were arrested Friday 6-24-16. Thomason was charged with three counts; identity fraud, attempt to commit identity fraud and making a false statement. Stookey was charged with two counts; identity fraud and attempt to commit identity fraud.
Appalachian Judicial District Chief Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver filed the complaint with the District Attorney’s office. District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee presented the charges to a Pickens County Grand Jury made up of sixteen citizens. The Grand Jury returned true bills on both Thomason and Stookey.
When the charges were dropped that made the file concerning this case open for the public to view, FYN spent Friday afternoon thoroughly reviewing the file. I listened to the witness interviews several times.
Immediately after the court adjourned Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss did an interview with Channel 2’s Mark Winne. (Doss interview with Mark Winne.) She told Winne she has spoken with the FBI three times since March.
Mark Thomason, Russell Stookey, Lynn Doss, and Fannin Probate Judge Scott Kiker have made claims that there is currently an FBI investigation into Judge Brenda Weaver and Judge Roger Bradley. Thomason, Stookey, and Doss have made the same claims concerning the FBI during interviews. Witness interviews claim Kiker told them about the FBI investigation in detail.
Throughout the DA’s investigation one name kept coming up, County Attorney Lynn Doss. It is common knowledge in the Appalachian Judicial District that Doss does not care very much for Judge Roger Bradley. I stated in a previous article a comment Doss made to me regarding her feelings for Bradley.
Doss serves as the Attorney for Fannin County, Fannin County Water Authority, and the Fannin County Board of Education. Her husband Harry Doss is the Fannin County Juvenile Public Defender and the Fannin County Probate Judge Public Defender. The Doss’s have received a lot of money for several years from Fannin County taxpayers. Side note, FYN has researched Doss and Kiker court cases from Cobb to Towns Counties and have found several cases where Lynn Doss and Scott Kiker are co-counsel. See any conflict with that? Doss is public defender in Kiker’s courtroom. Also what happened to the promise Kiker made the voters of Fannin County that he would be a full-time Probate Judge? Far from it, Kiker has private cases in several counties. And that is a story for another day.
Lynn Doss thoroughly understands attorney/client privilege so why would she risk losing a client like Fannin County Board of Commissioners who pays her $5,708 per month, $68,496 a year? I asked Chairman Bill Simonds if he knew that Fannin County was being investigated by the FBI and also if he knew Doss was speaking to the FBI? Simonds told us he just found out in the last couple of weeks and was not aware of any conversations Doss was having or may have had with the FBI.
Remember the checks from the Judge’s account which Thomason claimed appeared to have been illegally cashed? Who gave the checks to Stookey or Thomason? During an interview with DA Investigator Greg Arp, Simonds told Arp he understood that Doss said she thought the FBI would be contacting her and so Doss wanted the checks. Simonds went on to say, his understanding was that Doss gave the checks to Stookey who in turn gave them to Thomason.
So if Doss told Simonds about the FBI possibly contacting her why did she not come back to her client (Fannin County) and confirm her involvement with the FBI investigation once she was actually contacted?
Investigator Arp asked Simonds if Doss ever admitted to him who she gave the checks to? Simonds replied “Oh Yeah! She gave the checks to this Stookey guy. She is the county attorney. She has no F****** business giving checks out to nobody especially another attorney. She said ‘I do that all the time, I give out numbers.’ Simonds said, ‘Lynn this is a lot different than a F****** telephone number, this ain’t no telephone number.’ She lied about it. I think this is a d*** vendetta. Lynn is vindictive.”
The DA’s investigators Greg Arp and Christy O’Dell interviewed Rita Davis Kirby. Kirby is Fannin County’s CFO. Kirby told investigators that she gave the check in question to Doss and only Doss.
“She is the only one who had the checks. The only person who had copies of those checks. It’s obvious that Lynn is the only one with copies of the checks from Fannin County. If Mark Thomason has a copy of them it came to him from Lynn Doss. In March Lynn comes in and asks me for a copy of the third quarter, second, third and fourth quarter of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016 of Judge Bradley’s checks. She said I have gotten word the FBI is going to be looking into this and they will probably call me so if you will just go ahead and get those for me I will have them when they contact me. I got her the copies and sent them to her. She sent me an email and said could I go ahead and give her the other two judges just for the sake of not singling any one judge out. Something to that effect. She emailed me. Kirby said Doss never came back and said anything about the FBI investigation. “
Kirby was asked if the FBI had made any requests to the commissioner’s office?
“No, and that is what’s strange to me as well.”
Kirby recounted a meeting with investigators between Doss, Simonds, and herself concerning who Doss gave the checks to and how she knew they had been cashed. “ When Bill got a copy of the Open Records Request that Thomason sent Chairman Rob Jones in Pickens County, Lynn came in and was in Bill’s office. Kirby went into Bill’s office and sat down. Lynn read a copy of the email and told Bill she needed to talk to him about this. She needed to explain. She said this is crazy (Lynn), I could kill Mark Thomason (jokingly). All I know about this is ‘Mark Thomason received copies of these checks from Rita,’ and I (Kirby) stopped her. I said “No, Lynn, No he didn’t.” “I thought I had given him those checks but I didn’t. I went back to verify that. I did not give those checks to Mark Thomason, you are the only one I gave those checks too. She said (Lynn) I’m not sure how he got them.”
The reasoning behind the investigation is there is a problem about ‘if’ the checks have been cashed and they’re not supposed to be cashed. Lynn said on the back of the check in the upper left hand corner on Judge Bradley’s checks there are numbers that go across and we understand and were told it was a teller override. (Rita said) I told her that was not a teller override and Lynn said, I spoke to Ruth Jordan and she told me that it was a teller override.
Kirby said she was in the room when Simonds asked Doss who she gave the checks to. “Doss told Bill she gave the checks to Stookey who is Mark Thomason’s Attorney. At that point Bill looked at her and said, “you did what?” She said it’s open records and I gave them to Stookey. She said it’s no different than me giving a phone number to an attorney without asking if she could give the number out. Bill said that ain’t quite the same thing.”
Kirby implied throughout the interview that she feels that Doss shares county information with Thomason.
Did Ruth Jordan tell Lynn Doss that the checks appeared to have been cashed because of the numbers on the back of the check? Jordan is the Blue Ridge Branch Manager of Community & Southern Bank.
DA Investigators O’Dell and Arp interviewed Jordan. Jordan immediately let them know she could not answer questions for the bank but she could talk about procedural issues.
If we show you the back of the check could you tell us if it’s a teller override?
Jordan, “You would not be able to tell anything about the back of the check, I think that is the whole issue somebody doesn’t understand.”
So you couldn’t look at the back of the check and tell if it’s a teller override?
Jordan, “This is what I told everyone I did have a conversation with but I have not had a conversation with any attorney.”
So you haven’t talked with Miss Doss?
Jordan, “Concerning the back of the check in question, “this is a routing number, that is all that is.”
Investigator Odell, is there anything on the back of the check that you can tell that it’s been
cashed, deposited, whatever….?
“Procedural-wise, as far as Community and Southern’s bank policy, a check like that should never be cashed. That’s a business check. It’s a business check. One person does not have ownership of that check. So that check should have been deposited. Now, there is a For Deposit Only here. There is nothing on the back of this check that can tell you the check has been cashed, deposited, you can’t tell anything. There is nothing back there to tell that. It’s a routing number, branch number and teller number.”
Investigator, The only reason you are here is because your name specifically has come up as having a conversation with a certain attorney that has indicated that you were able to tell them from the back of that check. You have not had any conversation with Mrs. Doss regarding any of this?
Any conversation with Mrs. Doss regarding teller overrides? “No”
Jordan, “I have not spoken to Lynn Doss. I will not disclose anyone’s personal information. It’s not going to happen.”
When discussing the subpoena Jordan said, “I was shocked and amazed. I have never gotten a subpoena that was not served by an officer. If a deputy would have showed up with that subpoena it would have been filled out by someone before they got here with it. Generally when I get one on something like that they serve notice and generally they want someone to sign showing I received it. They were here literally wanting us to give them something and I’m like what, we don’t do that. I don’t think they understood. I was shocked that they had what looked like nearly a blank subpoena and I just said I don’t know anything about this. I don’t know what you’re looking for. You’re going to have to give me some information.”
Investigators showed Jordan the check that supposedly had been cashed illegally. Jordan said there was nothing on the check that indicated a teller override or that it had been cashed.
A check when deposited with a teller show the teller’s number so why not just go to the teller and ask if they cashed or deposited the check?
So why did Doss tell Simonds and Kirby that Jordan said the check appeared to be cashed? Who told Thomason the check appeared to be cashed? Remember that is what Thomason said in the email he sent Pickens County Commissioner Rob Jones. The email to Jones was an for an open records request. Who gave Thomason his information?
What about the FBI Investigation? In one witness interview with “Mr. X” he tells Arp and O’Dell that there are two FBI agents doing the investigation. FYN has learned the name of one FBI Agent, Jamie Harter.
Mr. X told Arp and O’Dell the following: Scott Kiker told me that a whistleblower came to Mark Thomason. Kiker would never tell me who the whistleblower was. Only thing Kiker told me was that the whistleblowers had been granted immunity from prosecution. There are two FBI agents.
Kiker said the reason he got involved was he and Thomason had to sign a paper before the FBI would investigate. They had to sign a paper saying that Mark had asked them to come up here. Thomason told Kiker he was afraid to sign it without some legal representation so he requested Scott Kiker to be his legal representation and then he signed the thing and gave it back to the FBI.
So if Scott Kiker is Thomason’s legal counsel concerning the FBI investigation does he know who the whistleblower is? Does he know whom the FBI offered immunity? FYN has reached out to Lynn Doss and Scott Kiker with a list of questions. At the time of this article they have not responded. At the bottom of this article you will see a list of questions we have asked both Doss and Kiker. We will post their answers as soon as they respond.
Remember the attempt to commit identity fraud in the indictment of Thomason. We found something very interesting in the DA’s file. It may be irrelevant but we feel it’s worth mentioning.
In this letter from Assistant District Attorney Chase G. Queen of the Enotah Judicial Circuit, Thomason may have committed identity fraud.
FYN would like to be clear regarding the allegations of “cashed checks” there hasn’t been any proof presented at this time which supports the claims of checks being cashed.
Below is the list of questions for Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss and Fannin County Probate Judge Scott Kiker.
I have reviewed the entire file including listening to all of the witness interviews in the case that was dropped last week against Mark Thomason and Russell Stookey.
- One witness stated that Thomason had to sign a form and send it back to the FBI before they would look into Thomason’s complaint. The witness stated that he (Thomason) brought the paperwork to you and I understand you signed as Thomason’s Attorney. Did you sign a document along with Mark Thomason that was sent back to the FBI?
- Have you spoken to or met with the FBI?
- Have you and Lynn Doss ever spoken with or met with the FBI together?
- Did Lynn Doss tell you she was speaking with the FBI? When was the first time you knew that Lynn Doss was involved with the FBI investigation?
- One witness said that you told him there was a whistleblower at UCBI and the FBI has granted this person immunity from prosecution. How are you aware of this information? Who told you (Mark Thomason, Lynn Doss, FBI…)? Do you know the identity of the whistleblower?
- One witness said that when he confronted you about the whistleblower and UCBI you said it was a rumor Mark Thomason started. Is it a rumor?
- Did you represent Greg Joseph Staffins in a shoplifting case in Union County?
- Does the Fannin County Probate Court have or use investigators?
- Has Mark Thomason ever worked for the Probate Court as an investigator?
- Are you aware that allegedly Mark Thomason went into the Blairsville Wal-Mart and identified himself to Wal-Mart employee Jeff Griffin as an investigator for the Fannin County Probate Court specifically Judge Scott Kiker’s Investigator?
- According to Jeff Griffin, Thomason asked to see Wal-Mart case reports on the shoplifting case against Greg Joseph Staffins. Was your office ever contacted by the Union County DA’s office inquiring about Thomason’s relationship to the Probate Court and yourself?
I am working on an article concerning a possible FBI investigation you discussed in a recent interview. I have listened to the witness interview from the Mark Thomason-Russell Stookey case and have several questions.
- You said you have communicated with the FBI 3 times. Were those phone conversations or meetings?
- Did you provide the FBI with any Fannin County documents?
- At any time did you make the Fannin County Chairman Bill Simonds aware of your involvement with an FBI investigation?
- Who (name) did you talk to at the FBI?
- Did you give the checks in question to Russell Stookey or Mark Thomason?
- Did you contact the FBI first?
- Did Ruth Jordan tell you the numbers on the check showed the checks had been cashed?
- Did you tell Chairman Simonds, with Rita Kirby present, that you gave the checks to Stookey and that Ruth Jordan told you the checks had an override number on them indicating they had been cashed?
- Did you tell Mark Thomason the checks appeared to have been cashed?
- Have you ever had a conversation with Scott Kiker concerning the FBI investigation in this matter?
- Has Scott Kiker or Mark Thomason shared with you the name of the whistleblower?
- Have you signed any paperwork with the FBI?
Blue Ridge Police Chief Johnny Scearce wants to be the next Fannin County Sheriff. He boasts of his law enforcement career of 35 years. You have seen the signs, “Choose Johnny.” His website is full of positive accomplishments, “Integrity & Experience – That’s the difference!” Scearce is planning to end hunger in Fannin County by planting a community garden using inmates. He wants to remove the county from the Zell Miller Mountain Parkway Drug Task Force. Scearce claims his plan is to put his own trained agents to rid the county of drugs and use what’s confiscated from drug busts to benefit Fannin county. He has also promised that the Sheriff’s office will be transparent.
Transparency? Johnny Scearce convinced the Blue Ridge City Council to purchase a licence plate scanner. Scearce told the council about how much he could raise revenue with the scanner. Claiming it would pay for itself in a couple of months. The scanner cost approximately $19,000. Click here to watch the video of Scearce’s licence plate scanner presentation to the city council.
On April 4th. FetchYourNews.com did an open records request asking for licence plate scanner detailed reports. Chief of Police Johnny Scearce sent my request to city attorney David Syfan. Syfan has come up with several reasons as to why FYN can not see the reports. As of May 15th we have received no reports. If elected will Scearce purchase licence plate scanners for deputy cars. Will he scan every tag in the county? Transparency?
Scearce wants to pull out of the drug task force. On February 9th FYN sent the City of Blue Ridge the following open records request: “Please provide the complete file of everything confiscated by the Blue Ridge City Police Department from 1/1/2008 – 2/9/2016.
Include all drug, property, cars, guns, EVERYTHING………… The complete file from confiscation to liquidation.” Once again city attorney David Syfan responded for Scearce. Syfan quoted a ridiculous amount of time to fill the request and it would cost hundreds and possibly thousands to fill the request. Poor record keeping should not cost citizens extra when making a request. Georgia open records laws say that they can choose to charge for records. As of May 15th FYN has not received anything from our request. One questions if Scearce won’t let us see the confiscated records of the city will he be transparent and show us what he confiscates within the county. If elected he wants to pull out of the Drug Task Force. The Drug Task Force has several layers of accountability when it comes to confiscated items.
Johnny Scearce spent most of 2005 as the center point, alleged suspect, of a Georgia Bureau of Investigations case. (Click here to read the GBI file on the case)
On October 26, 2004 Clifford Richard “Rick” Jones walked into BB&T bank in Blue Ridge and sat down at the desk of loan officer Rhonda Taylor and requested a loan using the name William James Prowse. Prowse “Jones” had no identification. This is where Scearce comes into the story.
The follow statements are taken from the GBI investigation. (Click here to read the GBI file).
This is where our story starts.
“On January 13, 2005 Special Agent J.K. Crook talked with Appalachian Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Cathy Cox-Brakefield regarding this case. Agent Crook was told that an inmate in the Gilmer County Detention Center, Rick Jones, gave information to his attorney that Blue Ridge Police Chief, Johnny Scearce, assisted him in obtaining a fraudulent loan with BB&T bank in Blue Ridge.”
“Special Agent J.K. Crook conducted an interview with Clifford Richard “Rick” Jones, Nick name “Yank”. Jones was incarcerated”
“Jones stated essentially the following. Jones applied for a $3,800 loan at BB&T bank in Blue Ridge. Jones knew he would not be able to get a loan using his real name and identification so he told the loan officer, Rhonda Taylor, that his name was William Prowse. Jones had taken Prowse identity and memorized his social security number and date of birth. Prowse had no knowledge that Jones was using his identity. Taylor requested an identification card on Jones under the name Prowse. He told Taylor that he had lost his licence. Jones told her that Blue Ridge Police Chief Johnny Scearce could vouch for him that he was Prowse. Taylor agreed to let Scearce vouch for him. Jones later went by Scearce’s office, called Taylor and then put Scearce on the phone to Taylor and had him vouch for Jones as Prowse. Scearce said to Taylor, “I’m sitting here with William Prowse.”
“Scearce told Taylor that he had known Prowse (Jones) for over twenty years. He told Taylor that Prowse had a nickname, “Yank”, and that Prowse played ball with Scearce. Scearce told Taylor that Jones real name was William Prowse”.
“Jones even obtained another $2,000 in the form of a cash advance. Jones fraudulently obtained a total of $5,800 from the bank with Scearce’s help.”
“On January 14, 2005 Special Agent J.K Crook conducted an interview with Rhonda Taylor.”
“ Jones represented himself as William Prowse to her in October 2004 and applied for a loan. He had no identification and said he lost his license. Taylor confirmed information received from Jones. Jones told Taylor that Blue Ridge Police Chief Johnny Scearce knew him and could vouch for who he was, she figured that if sceare could, that would be good enough for her. She would not question the Chief’s integrity. Jones left the bank and a short time later she received a call from Jones. He was in Scearce’s office and put Scearce on the phone. Scearce vouched for Jones saying that his real name was William Prowse. Scearce said he had know Jones (Prowse) a long and had played ball with him. Scearce called Taylor back later that day and told her her was not co-signing with Prowse for the loan.”
“On March 7th Special Agent J.K. Crook spoke to Fannin County Investigator Greg Newman regarding the case.”
“Investigator Newman talked with Johnny Scearce about the allegations made by Jones. Johnny Scearce told investigator Newman that he had talked to Rhonda Taylor at BB&T Bank in Blue Ridge but told her the man getting the loan was named Rick Jones. Johnny Scearce denied telling Ms. Taylor that Jones name was William Prowse.”
“On tuesday March 22nd GBI Special Agent in Charge J.A. Cagle transferred responsibility for the case to GBI Special Agent Kimberly Williams.”
“On May 5th Special Agent Kimberly Williams and Kenny Crook of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office interviewed Johnny Scearce, the Chief of Police of Blue Ridge with regard to his involvement in the investigation.”
“Scearce stated that he had not seen Jones in a long time until he walked into Chief Scearce’s office about a loan. Scearce had only ever known Jones through playing softball together. Jones was said to have an alias name of “Yank”. Scearce stated Rhonda Taylor of BB&T Bank of Blue Ridge wanted someone to verify Jones identity. Scearce stated he had always known Jones as Rick Jones and also knew that Jones went by the name William Prowse. Jones was said to have offered Scearce $200 to verify who he was to Rhonda Taylor of BB&T. Scearce stated he did not take any money from Jones. Jones contacted Rhonda Taylor via telephone at the bank and Scearce told Taylor that he had played ball with Rick Jones for approximately ten years and knew him as Rick Jones. Because Jones was sitting in Scearce’s office, he was unable to tell Taylor about the additional information that Jones went by another name. Scearce stated he went out to his car and called Taylor back on his cell phone to tell her that Jones had also been using an alias of William Prowse and had been in jail. At that point Taylor made the comment that she did not know if she would give Jones the loan. Scearce stated he advised she could do whatever she needed to, but he was not vouching for Jones, simply stating who Jones was. Scearce also told Rhonda Taylor that Jones went by the name “Yank”.”
“When questioned further about the incident, Scearce stated he heard Rick Jones had been given loans by the bank and defaulted on the loans in the past. Scearce stated that information was hearsay. Special Agent Williams asked Scearce why the bank would not then recognize Jones if they had previously given him loans?”
“Scearce explained the reason he knew Rick Jones also by the name William Prowse was because of a vehicle stop that was conducted by one of the Blue Ridge police officers some years ago in which Jones presented himself as William Prowse. When Scearce called to find out the specifics of the stop, he learned that the situation was actually Rick Jones’ car was being worked on at an automotive place in Blue Ridge and Frank Johnson found a William Prowse ID in Rick Jones’ car.”
“Special Agent Williams confronted Scearce with the information that loan officer, Rhonda Taylor, provided. Taylor said Scearce verified that the individual receiving the loan was William Prowse, not Rick Jones. Scearce was extremely upset and stated he would take a polygraph test. Scearce swore that he never told Rhonda Taylor that Rick Jones was William Prowse. Scearce indicated that there may have been something that Taylor held against him from high school, but that the two had not had a problem otherwise as a motive for why she was saying that Scearce verified the individual receiving the loan was William Prowse.”
“Special Agent Williams then asked Scearce why he felt the need to call Taylor back and explain to her that Rick Jones also went by the name of William Prowse. Scearce just felt she needed to know the information. Special Agent Williams explained to Scearce that the loan was written in William Prowse’s name, so what he was telling law enforcement did not fit the story. Special Agent Williams tried to explain to Scearce that there would be absolutely no reason to bring up an alias from ten years previous if he did not have prior knowledge that the loan was being applied for in the name of William Prowse. In other words, if the scenario that Chief presented to Special Agent Williams was in fact true, he was the only individual that brought up the name William Prowse, which is the name that the loan was in. Scearce swore that he had not verified Rick Jones was actually William Prowse. Scearce said he told Rhonda Taylor that Rick Jones had an alias of William Prowse because Jones was “fishy” and he just needed to tell her that information. Continually Scearce said he did not think anyone knew Rick Jones as William Prowse.”
“At the conclusion of the interview with Scearce, he asked Agent Williams what would happen. Special Agent Williams advised Scearce that she would complete the investigation and provide the findings to the District Attorney’s office for a decision as to whether or not it would be presented to the grand jury. Scearce seemed to be very upset over the matter.”
“Once the interview with Scearce concluded, Special Agent Williams and Investigator Kenny Crook met with Cliff Stitcher of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s office in Fannin County. Special Agent Williams and Investigator Crook relayed what had been told to them during the course of the interview with Johnny Scearce. Stitcher advised Williams and Crook that Scearce had come to him with letters from Rick Jones a while back and told him exactly the opposite. Scearce said he called the bank and proclaimed that the individual in his office was William Prowse. It should be noted that the individual who was arrested in relation to a crime with the loan in question is Rick Jones. Stitcher had concerns that Scearce told him exactly the opposite of what he had told investigators that day.”
“It should also be noted Special Agent Williams was advised the following day, May 6th, that Johnny Scearce had filed a formal complaint with BB&T Bank, whom his brother was president of, against Rhonda Taylor. Williams learned the information from District Attorney Joe Hendricks. District Attorney Hendricks was concerned because the incident happened in January of 2005, which allowed Scearce plenty of time to make a formal complaint against Taylor prior to investigators speaking with him. Hendricks felt that the act may possibly fall under influencing a witness.”
“On May 17th Special Agent Kimberly Williams interviewed Greg Newman. Investigator Newman advised Williams that recently, the bank investigators had talked with Johnny Scearce and Rhonda Taylor. Apparently, Scearce made comments that they cannot prove he called Rhonda Taylor and vouched for Rick Jones as William Prowse. Scearce supposedly made comments that it was his word against hers, and who were they going to believe, the Chief of Police. Scearce apparently volunteered to take a polygraph.”
“Tuesday May 17th special agent Kimberly Williams interviewed Rhonda Taylor, a bank loan officer for BB&T Bank. Taylor stated essentially the following:
On Wednesday May 11th 2015, BB&T corporate security arrived at the bank in Blue Ridge to talk to her and Johnny Scearce. Corporate security took it upon themselves to put the two face to face. The corporate security officer was Gabe Parks. Parks stated he wanted to put the two together and try to close the gap. Taylor advised special agent Williams she had learned through corporate security they had become involved and put the two face to face at the request of the District Attorney’s office. Also present during the interview was DA’s investigators Kenny Crook who said the DA’s office had not made such a request. Investigator Crook simply tried to find out if a complaint have been filed against Taylor.”
“Taylor stated that she felt very intimidated during the meeting with Scearce because he essentially called her a liar, and was very upset. According to Taylor, she had not felt scared or intimidated since, however, the two individuals being thrust together to talk about a different version of what happened was very uncomfortable. Taylor stated that recently, Mike Scearce, Johnny Scearce’s brother, had become the city executive BB&T Bank in Blue Ridge. Taylor actually told investigators that she was unaware that Johnny Scearce had lodged a complaint but thought that made sense based on the actions of BB&T corporate security. It was stated that neither she nor her husband had any problems with Scearce in high school or since.”
“During the meeting with corporate security, Scearce that stated that Rick Jones was a “maggot” and would not let Jones use his phone. He said he did not call and say that Rick Jones was William Prowse. Scearce said the individual he was vouching for was Rick Jones and also mentioned that Rick Jones had offered him $200 to vouch for him with Rhonda Taylor. Scearce stated that he did not need the money. Taylor then told Scearce that he was being loud and she did not appreciate him calling her a liar. Scearce said that he did call Rhonda Taylor back and that was when he told her the individual was also known as William Prowse.”
“Special agent Williams asked Taylor to remember what had originally been said during the loan application process. Taylor stated the individual now known as Rick Jones came to BB&T bank and claimed he was William Prowse. Jones filled out a hand-written application and provided all appropriate information, however, did not have a picture ID. The loan was for $3,800. Initially, the individual claiming to be Prowse stated that he lost his identification in the truck and went outside to look. When the individual came back, he said he must have left his identification at home. Taylor told Jones also known as Prowse that he could go to the State Patrol Post to get another identification. Jones stated that his wife would have to mail him a birth certificate so he could obtain his identification. Jones then left the bank and called back, with Chief of Police Johnny Scearce on the telephone. According to Taylor, Jones also known as Prowse called on the telephone but was with Scearce. Scearce was on the phone and verify that the individual in his office was William Prowse and also stated his nickname was “Yank”. Scearce then called back minutes later to tell Taylor that he was not co-signing on any loan with the individual. Taylor explained that she simply needed to verify the individual’s identity which was William Prowse. At that time, Scearce told Taylor that Prowse also goes by the name Jones, but his real identity was William Prowse.”
“Because of what occurred, Taylor indicated that she was written up in her personnel file and the President said that they are not going to reinvestigate the matter due to Corporate Security’s recent interest. According to Taylor, the bank’s policy on loans is each person has a set approval rate. They can singularly approve loans. The tellers and the loan officers are to know their customer, have proper identification, and an application. The particular loan in question was an unsecured loan and it met within the limits of what Taylor could approve without another individual’s approval.”
“According to Taylor, Scearce had come into the bank on April 25th to apply for a personal loan. The Chief had no problem and vocalized no problems with Taylor at that time.”
“On May 18th Special Agent Kimberly Williams and District Attorney’s Office investigator Kenny Crook interviewed Rick Jones.
Jones stated that he offered to pay Johnny Scearce $500 to vouch for him as William Prowse. Scearce told him he did not want the money, however, if he ever needed anything, he would let Jones know. Jones indicated that he was strung out or under the heavy influence of methamphetamine at the time, and if Scearce had been any friend at all, he would not have agreed to contact the bank in effort to help him facilitate a loan.
Jones stated that he went to Scearce’s office at the police department. Scearce spoke with Rhonda Taylor of BB&T and told her that William said he was having a hard time getting a loan with no identification. At no time did Jones hear Scearce make any statement about his true identity, which was Rick Jones, to Rhonda Taylor. Although Scearce did tell Taylor he knew Jones as “Yank”.”
“On Friday July 8th Special Agent Kimberly Williams contacted Gabriel Parks of BB&T corporate security. Parks handles investigations within the BB&T Banks. Williams asked Parks if he was involved in a confrontation between Rhonda Taylor and Johnny Scearce. Parks advised he conducted an interview between the two after receiving information that Scearce made allegations against Taylor for lying. According to Parks, Johnny Scearce called his brother after the GBI interview and advised him that Rhonda Taylor was lying about Scearce vouching for Rick Jones to BB&T Bank. The original investigation was completed by Parks, but when the new allegation against Taylor arose, Parks decided to interview Taylor again. Parks also thought it would be a good idea to have Scearce present.”
“Special agent Williams explained that the District Attorney’s office was very concerned, as was Williams that the bank personnel had been manipulated by Scearce into confronting Taylor. Williams advised Parks that the confrontation between Scearce and Taylor was intimidating at best. Parks admitted putting the two in a room together with probably not a good idea, but was a decision he made. Parks indicated Scearce ranted and yelled about Taylor lying and Taylor never lost her composure. Taylor even confronted Scearce about what he told her, which was that he, said the individual, was known as William Prowse. Taylor never wavered despite how mad Scearce got. Parks stated he used all of his interview techniques on Taylor and she consistently told the same version of what happened.”
“Parks thought that it was odd Scearce would go to such lengths to convince everyone that he did not vouch for Rick Jones as William Prowse. Scearce said that he told Taylor the individual was Rick Jones. Taylor stated what Scearce said was not true, Scearce actually said the individual was William Prowse. Taylor did not change her version at all. Scearce got loud and animated in the interview.”
“Scearce also volunteered he thought Taylor had problems with him because in the past she quoted him a very high interest rate on a small loan. Parks indicated the interest rate was not controlled by Taylor, and it usually was controlled by the applicant’s credit history. Parks was at a loss as to why Scearce would think Taylor had anything against him at all.”
“Parks admitted he would not have been involved the second time had it not been for Scearce’s complaint to his brother, Mike Scearce.”
“Monday July 11th Special Agent Kimberly Williams and District Attorney’s investigator Kenny Crook went to the Blue Ridge Police Department. Williams and investigator Crook were there to meet with Chief Johnny Scearce regarding a polygraph examination. Chief Scearce admitted he agreed to take the polygraph examination during the original interview regarding this case. Scearce indicated he was still willing to take a polygraph examination. Williams advised Scearce that she scheduled a test for him on Wednesday July 20th at the GBI office in Cleveland, Georgia.”
“Scearce asked if Rhonda Taylor would also be taking a polygraph examination. Williams advised that at that point she had only scheduled an examination for Scearce. But after Scearce took his test she would approach Taylor about taking a test if need arose. Scearce asked if he would fail the polygraph because he was nervous. Williams explained that the instrument utilized during the examination would measure his breathing rate, heartbeat, and other physiological reactions for indication of deception.”
“Scearce again told investigators that Rhonda Taylor was lying. Scearce indicated he told her on the telephone that the loan applicant was Rick Jones also known as “Yank” and said he called her back later to tell her he was also known as William Prowse. Scearce also told investigators he thought Rhonda Taylor had a problem with Scearce because she would not give him a loan for $3,000. Taylor insisted the loan amount had to be $3,500 and she quoted him an 18% interest rate. Scearce said the corporate security person said that was ridiculous when Scearce told him about the personal loan situation.”
“On July 20th Agent Pamela Rushton met with Johnny Scearce at the GBI Region 8 office located in Cleveland, White County, Georgia. The purpose of the meeting was to conduct a polygraph exam concerning allegations that Mr. Scearce had assisted Rick Jones in defrauding BB&T Bank. During the pre-test interview, Mr. Scearce stated essentially the following:
Mr. Scearce was located at the Blue Ridge Police Department in October 2004 when Rick Jones came into his office. It should be noted Mr. Scearce is the Chief of Police of Blue Ridge, Georgia. Mr. Scearce barely recognized Mr. Jones because it had been some time since he had seen him. Also Mr. Scearce stated it appeared Mr. Jones had lost a lot of weight. Mr. Jones stated he did not have an identification on him and the bank would not give him a loan. He asked Mr. Scearce to contact the bank and inform them of his identity. According to Mr. Scearce, Mr. Jones offered $200 to call the bank. Mr. Scearce stated he declined the money, however, he did contact Rhonda Taylor at the bank. He informed Ms. Taylor that he had “Yank” also known as Rick Jones sitting in his office. He disclosed to Ms. Taylor that he had known Mr. Jones for the past ten to fifteen years.”
“When Mr. Jones left, Mr. Scearce stated he re-contacted Ms. Taylor at the bank to inform her that Mr. Jones had stolen identity of a William Prowse. According to Mr. Scearce, Miss Taylor expressed concern whether she should give the loan to Mr. Jones. At this time Mr. Scearce stated he did not want to continue with the pre-test interview for the polygraph exam.”
“ Mr. Joe Hendricks, July 28th, 2005. Please do not hesitate to contact my office if you have any questions concerning this investigation. Sincerely Special Agent Kimberly Williams.”
“Thursday, January 13th 2005, Georgia Bureau of Investigations Region 8 Cleveland was requested to investigate allegations of party to the crime of fraud and identity theft by Blue Ridge Police Chief Johnny Scearce. Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney Joe Hendricks made the request. Special Agent J.K. Crook responded to the request.”
Several questions remain unanswered as to why this did not go before the grand jury, why was Chief of Police Johnny Scearce not indicted and face trial for this alleged crime?
Usually when law enforcement officers are under investigation and refuse to take a polygraph examination, it is grounds for dismissal. Why didn’t the Blue Ridge City Council terminate Chief of Police Johnny Scearce in 2005 for refusing to take a lie detector test?
What happened to this investigation? Why did it end so abruptly? Why did District Attorney Joe Hendricks not prosecute? Let’s not forget the City of Blue Ridge is currently under investigation now and the next section of the report from Jarrard & Davis is due at the end of this month. Wonder how the Blue Ridge Police Department will make out in the investigation. Could the current DA reopen the case?