East Marietta Basketball director of basketball operations arrested as part of Columbus Parks & Recreation probe

East Marietta Basketball executive charged with conspiring to defraud city

chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.comSeptember 14, 2010 

Columbus Police have made a third arrest in connection with the ongoing corruption investigation of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

East Marietta Basketball Inc. Director of Basketball Operations William Fox, who managed the Nike sponsorship for a city-organized and operated elite travel basketball team, turned himself in to police Monday afternoon. He was booked into the Muscogee County Jail and later released on $11,000 bond, which he posted on a credit card, said Sheriff’s Maj. Randy Robertson.

Last week a warrant was issued charging Fox with conspiracy to defraud a political subdivision, one of the same charges facing Parks and Recreation Director Tony Adams and subordinate Herman Porter.

Adams and Porter are accused of funneling into a private account more than $200,000 that should have gone to the city, Police Chief Ricky Boren said at the time of their arrests. The bank account over which Adams and Porter had control was opened in April 2005 and closed May 21, just days after the release of an internal audit raising questions about Parks and Rec operations, police said.

Fox was involved in the operation Adams and Porter were running, Boren said Monday: “They are all charged in the same conspiracy.” Fox could face additional charges, the chief said.

“If there are additional charges, they will be placed at the time of the grand jury,” Boren said.

Prosecutors will present all three cases to a Muscogee County grand jury. Contacted Monday, District Attorney Julia Slater referred questions to police.

Adams and recreation specialist Porter were arrested Aug. 24 and accused of false writings and fraudulent documents within the jurisdiction of a political subdivision and conspiracy to defraud a political subdivision, both felonies; and of tax evasion through unlawful filing of false documents, a misdemeanor.

Adams and Porter are out on bond and suspended without pay from their city jobs.

The police investigation, which started in late May, is continuing, Boren said.

Fox’s connection to Adams and Porter surfaced not long after the Ledger-Enquirer requested details of the Nike sponsorship under the Georgia Open Records Act. On May 24, Fox sent a letter to the city stating that East Marietta Basketball, a nonprofit corporation, signed a contract with Nike to provide uniforms, shoes and funding for Nike-sponsored tournaments for the Georgia Blazers, the city under-17 travel team. Adams coached and Porter managed the team, bringing top high school players from as far away as 150 miles to Columbus.

The Nike deal had been in place since 2006. The team, which had one player from Columbus on the 13-man roster, played in Virginia, Texas and California this year.

As part of the investigation, police obtained the Nike contract. A police copy of the contract showed Adams signed it on behalf of the Georgia Blazers as director of East Marietta Basketball. Other details have not been disclosed.

Fox also had another relationship with the Parks and Recreation Department: He and wife Joyce are directors of Youth Basketball of America-Georgia, which has held three or more tournaments a year in city facilities.

YBOA-Georgia has been using the city gyms rent-free, according to information obtained by the newspaper under Georgia’s Open Records Act. The city has paid rent, cleaning and medical fees for YBOA-Georgia-sponsored tournaments. YBOA-Georgia also gets bid fees of as much as $3,000 a tournament from the Columbus Sports Council, which recruits athletic events to the city.

A call to Fox’s cell phone Monday was not returned. The Cobb County man has been represented by Columbus attorney Stacey Jackson in connection with the Open Records Act request. Jackson, who is representing Porter in the criminal matter, also could not be reached Monday.

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