First on 12: Investigation into bribery allegations against local official

Councilman Herman Brown (WRDW-TV)

Councilman Herman Brown (WRDW-TV)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, April 25, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- We got our hands on a recording incriminating a city councilman in Waynesboro. The recording is a formal police interview with a witness who claims to have firsthand knowledge of some shady dealings with Councilman Herman Brown.

Chris Shaw went to the Waynesboro Police Department last May. That's when this interview was recorded.

RECORDING
Shaw: "I was talking with Brenda Lewis, and I told her I thought there was a lot of crooked stuff going on with the council with several members, but I thought for sure one of them might of been out of compliance for sure."

Shaw says he was approached by Brown about removing some trees at the Brier Creek apartment complex Brown oversees in Millen. Shaw says he submitted a bid on the work, and this is what he says Brown told him.

RECORDING
Shaw: "You're leaving a lot of money on the table, and I said, well can I redo my bid? And I said it kind of jokingly, and he said yeah, if you want to, and so, I did."

Briar Creek apartments are owned by Boyd Management out of Columbia. They receive tax credits and federal funding for the apartments, meaning your tax dollars help foot the bill for projects like tree removal.

RECORDING
Shaw: "That was the second bid I gave him, but then about a week later, he calls me on the phone and asks me to submit another one and add $1,000 to it, for him. And so, I did."

On the recording, Shaw tells the Waynesboro police chief, chief deputy, city manager and city attorney of three bids submitted for one project, each one higher than the last. We caught up with Shaw to see what the extra $1,000 was for.

"I told him I could make money at this number right here. He wanted to know what was in it for him," Shaw said.

Shaw says after he removed the trees, Brown started calling and harassing him about the extra money.

RECORDING
Shaw: "I come to a council meeting down here, and I saw Herman, and I said, Julie, that's the man that's been asking me about his $1,000. I said, write him a check right now."

Shaw claims he didn't realize Brown was a Waynesboro City Council member until he went to a meeting to complain about the bid process.

News 12's Laura Warren asked Shaw, "What made you decide to go to police in the first place?"

He responded, "Because I went in there to negotiate and he wouldn't even talk to me. He wouldn't even ... it was like nah nah nah, we going to do this, we going to do that."

So, one year later, where is the investigation now? The Waynesboro police chief at the time, Alfonzo Williams, says he turned the case over to Millen since the bid was for work in Millen. But the Millen chief told News 12 he's never heard anything about the case.

We called the GBI, and this area's lead investigator says he hasn't heard about the case either. Above the GBI is the FBI, but a spokesperson told News 12 that they can't make a comment on whether or not they are looking into the bribery allegations against Brown.

We also reached out to Brown, who simply said it was not bribery, and he didn't wish to comment any further.


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