Audit results in criminal investigation of Augusta golf course

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November 28, 2006

Augusta's recreation department is under the microscope again today.

An audit that raised questions about the city-run golf course has led to a criminal investigation.

Some city leaders thought the Municipal Golf Course was so far in the hole because people don't play there anymore.

But this new audit finds it's not lack of patrons but rather the employees that are responsible for the financial problems.

"There's a lot of money missing that's not accounted for," said Augusta commissioner and mayor pro tem Marion Williams.

A CPA firm presented a report to city leaders filled with 21 alarming findings, including violations of purchasing policies, a substantial amount of missing beer, 3 years worth of missing receipts, untraceable deposits, and missing petty cash.

It's adding up to a criminal investigation.

"We are currently investigating some accusations of possible credit card uses or unauthorized credit card usage, some monies that is missing from the Municipal Golf Course," said Inv. Shane McDaniel.

No suspects have been named, but talk of potential litigation led staff attorney Vanessa Flournoy to shut the media out of meeting, telling us we couldn't see the audit.

News 12 and reporters from the Augusta Chronicle challenged her under Georgia's Sunshine Law.

"Closing a meeting because of potential litigation is not sufficient under Georgia law," said Chronicle government reporter Sylvia Cooper.

We were later allowed in the meeting and got a copy of the audit, as did Recreation and Parks director Tom Beck, the man who requested the report. Even he admits these findings can't be ignored.

"There's obviously some things that should have been done better and by policy," Beck said.

So as this subcommittee prepares to finish their investigation, the sheriff's office is just opening theirs, working to find who's responsible for the what's missing and whether it's a case of theft or bad bookkeeping.

Guy Reid is one of the people who will be questioned. He ran the golf course for years before he was suspended and later resigned after it was found he was not PGA certified.

No total amount of money was given in this audit, but Marion Williams says we're talking at least five to ten thousand dollars. We may not know an exact amount until the investigation is complete.