Probe of former county attorney to get airing Thursday night

Fayette County Commissioner Randy Ognio. File photo.

Commissioner Randy Ognio will lead a Fayette County Board of Commissioners’ discussion Thursday night about “issues concerning former County Attorney Scott Bennett.”

Those issues revolve around a lengthy investigation conducted by the county marshal’s department into whether Bennett violated the terms of his contract by representing clients in four different legal cases from 2008-2010, a time frame during which he was forbidden to do according to language in the contract.

During the investigation, the county marshal was unable to find any evidence of criminal activity, though his report noted that the breach of contract issue could be brought up as a civil filing in court if the county so desires.

The marshal’s department also investigated Bennett for removing the hard drive from his county office computer and subsequently having its data wiped off the device, along with a similar action on Bennett’s county-issued laptop.

Because Bennett returned the hard drive and laptop several days later and had permission from then-County Manager Jack Krakeel to conduct the wipes, the marshal’s office initially determined that Bennett could not be held accountable for the wiped electronic data.

However, in early February the marshal’s office changed course and re-opened its investigation after learning that under the county’s organizational chart at the time, Krakeel lacked the authority to allow the data wipe since Bennett was to report directly to the County Commission.

Bennett could not be reached for comment by The Citizen’s press time, but in the past has denied any wrongdoing, adding that any of the removed data was stored in his office as a hard copy.

The investigation began with a letter from frequent Bennett critic and fellow attorney Wayne Kendall. Kendall and Bennett have clashed both in court filings and also in person as Kendall filed an unsuccessful ethics complaint against Bennett.

In his letter, Kendall lays out several cases in Henry County and in federal court, alleging that Bennett represented parties during the time period when Bennett’s employment contract with Fayette County forbid him from doing so.

Also on the agenda: A request to sell .22 acres of land at McCurry Park to make way for the widening of Ga. Highway 54 from Fayetteville to Tara Boulevard will be considered by the commission Thursday night.

The widening project may require the removal of six hardwood trees in the area, though DOT will try and save the trees if possible, according to a memo circulated to the county commissioners in advance of the meeting.

Steve Brown
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Mr. Jolly

What exactly does "several times he has only done what is due and prudent in his line of work" mean? Are you saying stealing your hard drive out of your government computer and wiping it clean of records protected under the Georgia Open Records Act is a prudent thing to do?

Violating your employment contract on multiple occasions is not such a good thing either, right? He was suing Henry County and City of Buford for private clients at the same time he was supposed to be our full time attorney.

ginga1414
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If They "Just Let It Go"

If we "just let it go," what message does that send to others?

Personally speaking, I think that all government employees should be held accountable for the taxpayers' property and their employment contracts.

Husband and Fat...
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Ginga

What he did was unethical.

However he received permission from his buddy Krakeel, the acting and outgoing county manager who had nothing to lose. Even Mr. Brown didn't realize that Krakeel didn't have the authority to approve the wipe until recently. That tells you how much Mr. Brown just likes to talk without knowing the facts. Krakeel probably also gave him permission to moonlight on the lawsuits. He and past county managers set the precedent allowing this for others.

Everyone in the Western Hemisphere knows both men despise one another and everyone knows that Mr. Brown was sitting right there waiting for the computer to turn on so he could start digging for anything he could find.

The bottom line is that very little is going to be gained even if found guilty. We have already spent untold hours and money on the witch hunt. Mr. Brown is right, no doubt. But how much more wasted time, energy and money is the county going to spend to placate the ego of Mr. Brown. It's a shame we don't have any other independent thinkers on commission. However they are all afraid to speak out against Mr Brown.

I will join Mr. Barlow in praying that the chairman learns how to forgive, move on, and stop wasting our tax dollars to placate his oversized ego.

Let me pose a question. Is it unethical or illegal for a commissioner to correspond to any county business or county issue using a personal email account on their personal computers? The answer should be yes. If not, then this should be addressed.

Husband and Fat...
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Mr. Chairman - Just let it go

Your right on this, but weigh the issue. What is there to gain? Disbarment? Embarrassment? Ethics Charges and small fine?

He is probably just going to reiterate that Krakeel told him it was ok to wipe the drive and then he will say the same about his employment violation. Or he will claim he did this work off the clock. The county has a history of allowing employees to moonlight if it doesn't affect their job. Remember, he's just an entitled lawyer, lol.

We all know you are right with both claims. But in this case you need to be a bigger man and end this personal vendetta. Perhaps Mr. Barlow could come in handy and pray that you can learn to forgive.

Robert W. Morgan
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Bigger man? End personal vendetta? Barlow pray?

Brown? Huh? No chance on bigger man or end personal vendetta or just letting it go - that's not how the brown clown rides. Barlow praying? Maybe. Brown can't prevent that himself. That's how Barlow distances himself from Brown. If I were on that commission I would pray 24/7.

Allstar American
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Good luck

getting something that resembles English out of Donnie's little hand-maiden.

Jolly for PTC Mayor
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Must have nothing better to do

Why oh why does the County Commission continue on this investigation, when several times he has only done what is due and prudent in his line of work.

If he violated his contract then just proceed to sue him in civil court.

But, how much more time/money must the county commission spend on this issue.

Do you as the commission have no other pressing matters???

Husband and Fat...
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Ognio pinch hitting tonight.

Will be interesting to see how this plays out tonight.

I see that Mr. Brown purposefully placed Mr. Ognio on the front lines to make everyone think that the decision isn't personal between Brown and Mr. Bennett. Doesn't fool me. I'd certainly be surprised if they just put it behind us and moved on.

Seems like we are looking to pay for additional legal fees.

naturegrl
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ogino

I will be surprised if Ogino can put two words together. His wife tells him every word to speak.

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