JASPER, Ga. – Arrested in January of 2020, former Chief Magistrate Judge for Pickens County, Allen Wigington was convicted recently on his charges racketeering, forgery, and theft. Now serving a 15 year total sentence. However, he is expected to only spend 5 years in prison.
According to the state, Attorney General Chris Carr announced that the office’s Prosecution Division has concluded its case against Judge William “Allen” Wigington.
They said, “He was found guilty of 1 count of Racketeering, 3 counts of Fourth Degree Forgery, 5 counts of Theft by Taking, 39 counts of Unauthorized Use of a Financial Transaction Card, and 1 Count of Violation of Oath of Office. In total, his crimes amounted to 44 felonies and 5 misdemeanors. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.”
The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office worked alongside the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in the case reaching all the way back to 2016. According to the the Georgia Attorney General’s Office, the investigation began when a local non-profit organization noticed that Judge Wigington had paid his personal credit card bill using the non-profit’s bank account. He reportedly made several questionable purchases for instance he made three separate transactions of $923, $848.31, and $317 from Pickens County Magistrate Court to give to a nonprofit with the “intention of depriving owner of said property.” In reports of the crimes investigated, it was stated that he charged $96.27, $137.82, and $343.84 on Pickens County government card for personal expenses at Hampton Inn in Kingsland, Ga, Doubletree by Hilton at Atlanta Airport, and Hilton Bonnet Creek Hotel in Orlando, Fla. It was also discovered that he had been double billing the county for travel reimbursements. The Attorney General’s Office also specifically noted that “Judge Wigington also stole 200 dollars that was designated to purchase a suit for a child whose family could not afford to purchase it.”
Attorney General Chris Carr stated in a press release, “Mr. Wigington violated the public’s trust in the worst way, and he will now serve time for his deceitful behavior. I commend the work of our Prosecution Division, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office for uncovering the extreme lengths that Mr. Wigington went through to defraud his community. The theft of taxpayer funds will not go unpunished, and we will continue to root out this type of public corruption in our state.”
When the investigation became public and a GBI Warrant was executed to search his office on January 29, 2020, authorities reported that Judge Allen Wigington turned himself in and later resigned his position as Judge.
Though the Attorney General’s Office notes a 15-year sentence, it was stated in their release, “He will serve 5 in custody, followed by the remainder on probation.”
The Office of the Attorney General provides the following case notes:
Judge William “Allen” Wigington was appointed Chief Magistrate Judge of Pickens County in May of 2011. He resigned in February of 2020 related to these charges.
In March of 2019, Judge Allen Wigington was a member of a Masonic Lodge in Jasper, Georgia known as the Blaine Lodge. He held the position of treasurer. At the March meeting of the Lodge, the Lodge secretary noticed that there was a discrepancy in the Lodge bank account. There was supposed to be $8,000 in the account, but the bank account balance was only approximately $5,900. Examination showed that Wigington had paid his personal Chase credit card bill out of the Lodge account in the amount of $2,118.37. The secretary immediately sent a text message to Wigington who advised that the account must have been hacked and that he would take care of the matter the next day. Wigington contacted the secretary the next day and advised that the bank refused to help Wigington, and the bank told him that he would have to contact Chase to solve the problem. As a follow up, Wigington told the secretary that Chase said that they couldn’t directly deposit the fraud reimbursement in the Lodge’s account. Therefore, Wigington planned to have Chase send the money to the Courthouse, and Wigington would reimburse the Lodge through the courthouse.
Wigington thereafter wrote three checks from Pickens County Magistrate Court account to cover the Lodge’s loss. The three checks totaled $2,188.37, which was more than was drawn out of the Lodge’s account. The Lodge secretary immediately noticed the discrepancy and knew that Wigington had lied to him. The secretary communicated the issue to another Lodge member.
That member confronted Wigington at the courthouse. Wigington told the member that he received the reimbursement checks from Chase, but that his clerk accidentally deposited them in the Magistrate Court’s account, and that he reimbursed it from the Magistrate Court’s account. Wigington showed the member copies of the alleged checks. Eventually, Wigington changed his story saying he made an error. He said he used the Lodge’s account to pay his credit card bill.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) followed up with Chase Bank in January of 2020. A subpoena to Chase found that Wigington had forged the three Chase checks that Wigington showed the member to corroborate the lie that Chase had reimbursed him for the alleged hacked account.
On January 28, 2020, the GBI received documentation that Wigington had purchased multiple Apple tech products on his Pickens County Magistrate Court Purchase Card (p-card) on November 19, 2018. Three of the purchases would later be substantiated as work-related, but there was not an explanation for an Apple Watch and AppleCare support.
As a result of these documents, the GBI expanded its investigation into Wigington’s p-card usage. The results found the following inappropriate expenses:
- September 14, 2017 – Hampton Inn, Canton, Georgia
- September 15, 2017 – New Orleans Hyatt Riverside
- March 31, 2018 – Doubletree Hotel in Atlanta
- February 17, 2019 – Disney Hotel
- September 23, 2019 – Jacksonville Hotel on the way to take a cruise
Four of these hotel expenses are related to family vacations to Disney, cruises, etc.
The GBI and Pickens County Sheriff’s Office discovered that Wigington falsified documents to cover up his personal expenses. For example:
On July 18, 2019, Wigington documented a P-Card expense of $366.99 as an HDMI converter box, HDMI switch, and computer charging case. Normally, these would be considered appropriate expenses. However, when the Sheriff’s Office and GBI looked at the actual Amazon documentation, it was noticed that Wigington had purchased a Nintendo Switch, Apple Airpods, and an Airpod charger.
This occurred numerous times over years with Wigington purchasing everything from electronics to skin care.
Wigington was an associate of the High School Mock Trial program. One of the children could not afford a suit for a competition, so a local defense attorney gave Wigington $200.00 to purchase a suit for the student. Wigington pocketed the $200.00 and used his P-Card to purchase two suits from K&G: one for the student and one for himself.
The Violation of Oath of Office is an all-encompassing charge for his misconduct.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation
Contact: Nelly Miles – Public Affairs Director
For Immediate Release
June 27, 2017
GBI Crime Lab Identifies Two New Fentanyl Analogues Cleveland, GA – The Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Crime Lab in Cleveland, GA has identified two new fentanyl analogues, acrylfentanyl and tetrahydrofuran fentanyl. Both of these synthetic opioids had not previously been identified by the GBI Crime Lab. They both can be absorbed through the skin and are considered highly dangerous.
The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office submitted forensic drug evidence containing these two drugs to the crime lab in March of this year. Acrylfentanyl had been on the GBI’s watchlist for the past few months. Multiple reports in other states indicated that the opioid reversal drug, naloxone, may not be effective if someone overdosed after ingesting acrylfentanyl.
Legislation was introduced this year to outlaw acrylfentanyl in Georgia. The law banning the substance went into effect after passage by the Georgia General Assembly and the Governor’s signature on April 17, 2017. At this time, tetrahydrofuran fentanyl is not covered under GA law.
It is unknown how the human body will react to both drugs since they are not intended for human or veterinary use.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation
Contact: Nelly Miles – Public Affairs Director
For Immediate Release
June 8, 2017
GBI Crime Lab Testing in Overdoses Related to Counterfeit Pills
Decatur, GA – On Wednesday, June 7, 2017, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Crime Lab received evidence related to the reported overdoses in the Central Georgia area. Preliminary results indicate a mixture of two synthetic opioids, with one of the drugs being consistent with a new fentanyl analogue. This fentanyl analogue has not previously been identified by the GBI Crime Lab. Due to the nature of the analysis, testing to confirm the full identity of the drug will require additional time. The GBI Crime Laboratory continues to make the analysis a priority.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia Department of Public Health, Georgia Poison Center, hospitals, local, state, and federal partners are working jointly on this investigation.
ATLANTA – Allen J. Pendergrass and Terrell McQueen have been arraigned on charges of orchestrating a nationwide unclaimed property fraud scheme. They provided asset recovery services for clients, claiming they would recover unclaimed money and assets held by local and state governments for a fee. During that process, they allegedly forged documents, claiming thousands of dollars due to citizens, which they placed into accounts they controlled, never distributing the money owed.
“These defendants are charged with forging power of attorney forms to steal over $100,000 owed to local businesses and residents,” said U. S. Attorney John Horn. “Citizens should remain vigilant in guarding their personal information as thieves continue to find new and creative ways to use it to perpetuate fraud schemes.”
“The defendants stole individual’s identities and received money that was not rightfully theirs,” said James Dorsey, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. “The IRS will continue to investigate and disrupt these complex financial schemes holding those accountable for their wrongdoing.”
“This investigation involved the meticulous gathering of hard evidence which uncovered a significant financial fraud and identity theft scheme,” said David M. McGinnis, Inspector in Charge, Charlotte Division. “Postal Inspectors will vigorously pursue and bring to justice anyone who commits a crime by utilizing the US Mail system.”
According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the indictment, and other information presented in court: From on or about 2004 until 2014, Pendergrass owned and operated Guishard, Wilburn & Shorts, LLC a company based on College Park, Georgia, that purportedly provided asset recovery services, including recovering unclaimed money and assets held by local and state governments for a fee. During that time, Pendergrass also owned or controlled other companies in Georgia that purported to provide the same services, including Asset Financial Recovery, Inc., Recovery Capital, Attorney Recovery System, National Asset Recovery Agency, Inc., Beacon Asset Recovery Agency, LLC, National Unclaimed Funds, Inc. and Service Pros, Inc.
In 2012, Pendergrass started Asset Financial Recovery, Inc., and was listed as the company’s chief executive officer. McQueen was listed as the chief financial officer. In 2013, Pendergrass and McQueen mailed forged power of attorney forms to the City of Atlanta and fraudulently claimed over $100,000 owed to local businesses and residents. These forms included forged signatures. Pendergrass and McQueen deposited stolen funds into bank accounts they controlled and did not provide the funds to rightful owners. Pendergrass, McQueen, and companies they controlled, perpetuated this fraud scheme across the country.
Allen J. Pendergrass, 60, of Fayetteville, Georgia, and Terrell McQueen, 37, of Fort Worth, Texas, were indicted on June 27, 2017.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendants are presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendants’ guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Brown is prosecuting the case.
In that this remains an ongoing investigation, anyone with information regarding this matter should contact the United States Postal Inspection Service at877-876-2455.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at [email protected] or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.