News 12 at 6 o'clock, September 9, 2009
AUGUSTA, Ga.---Augusta mayor Deke Copenhaver signals no vote on a planned TEE Center until the Richmond County Sheriff's department investigation ends. The move comes as two more commissioners admit they too were approached with a bribe.
57-year-old David Fry was arrested on 2 counts of bribing Augusta commissioners to vote for a planned trade center.
"I would almost say it's a witch hunt," said Rose Walker who is Fry's next door neighbor and acquaintance of 30 years. "I think he was just a concerned citizen trying to pull the TEE center together for the community."
Fry allegedly targeted commissioner Alvin Mason and Corey Johnson. You can now add commissioner Jerry Brigham and Don Grantham to the list.
"It is the most bizarre piece of public enterprise I have ever been in in my life," said Brigham.
"It must have been on that Monday night," said commissioner Don Grantham. "The [August] 31st that he phoned me."
The contact came 7 days after Mason and Johnson notified local law enforcement. It came 1 day before a planned commission meeting to discuss the TEE Center.
"Why didn't you go to the sheriff's department," we asked.
"Because I thought it was ridiculous," said Brigham.
Was Fry a go between?
"Hell no," exclaimed Brigham. "If I'm going to contact another commissioner I will pick up the phone and call him."
"Did you ever meet behind closed doors to discuss this TEE center bribe," we asked.
"No," said Brigham.
"There was no discussion," we asked again.
"I didn't say there was no discussion. You asked if we met to discuss it. We have never met to discuss it. Mr. Grantham said that he had a call from Mr. Fry."
"Have you met with commissioners outside of the public meetings," we asked commissioner Grantham.
"No." said Grantham. "You mean as far as meeting with them outside of a public meeting," questioned Grantham.
"I met with commissioners in my office from time to time," said Grantham.
"Do you see a problem with that," we asked.
"Of course, not," said Grantham.
"Do you think that is a good policy," we asked Brigham.
"I have participated in it," replied Brigham.
"This city is the most embarrassing...when somebody's says oh you're from Augusta," said Rose. "I hope they are referring to the Masters and not to Augusta politics. It's a joke."
Mayor Copenhaver says his newly created TEE Center panel will not make a recommendation to the commission next week as expected.
The mayor says it is the most logical course of action until the sheriff's department completes an investigation.