Prosecutors are offering plea deals to fired Columbus Parks and Recreation Director Tony Adams and other defendants implicated in the city scandal that alleges misuse of public funds, forgery and kickbacks involving a city-run basketball program.
The deals were discussed last week in a meeting between prosecutors and top city leaders. Among those attending were District Attorney Julia Slater, Chief Assistant District Attorney Al Whitaker, Assistant District Attorney Letitia Sikes, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, City Manager Isaiah Hugley and Police Chief Ricky Boren, Sikes said Monday.
Slater said the city government is the victim in the Parks and Rec case, so Hugley and Tomlinson are like any other victim’s family with whom prosecutors would meet to discuss the possible outcome of a criminal case.
“We are representing their interest in this case, just like we would a rape victim’s interest, so we speak to them about the case as we progress through,” Slater said. “We talked about the expectations of the people who were at the meeting and what the range of punishment is for these crimes, so they would understand the kind of picture that we’re looking at.”
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Besides Adams, the defendants include city recreation specialist Herman Porter and East Marietta Basketball Inc. Director William Fox. Columbus attorney Frank Martin, who represents Fox, confirmed Monday that his client had been offered a plea deal, though Martin did not find the offer acceptable, he said.
No one interviewed Monday would say what deals are being offered. Superior Court Judge John Allen has set a hearing for noon Thursday to consider motions and set a trial date. Whitaker said no plea deals would be offered after that.
Atlanta attorney Manny Arora represents Porter. “We have not agreed to anything,” Arora said Monday. “As far as we are concerned, this is going to trial.”
When the defendants were arraigned last Thursday, Whitaker handed each defense attorney a computer disc with all the documents needed for the process of discovery, in which the defense reviews the prosecution’s evidence. Attorneys say the computer files are voluminous.
It would be impossible to review all that evidence before this Thursday’s court hearing, Arora said.
“It will take more than three business days to go through it,” he said. “We need to go through the bank records and then we can make an intelligent decision about what the next step should be.”
Asked whether he knew about the meeting between prosecutors and city leaders, the attorney said: “I am not aware of whom is talking to whom on the government side. Our job is to get some offers out there.”
Their indictments charge Adams and Porter with three counts of conspiracy to defraud a “political subdivision,” meaning the city, and two counts each of theft by taking and first-degree forgery. Fox faces two counts of conspiracy to defraud a political subdivision and one count of theft by taking.
When Adams and Porter were arrested Aug. 24, Police Chief Ricky Boren said they had funneled more than $200,000 in public funds to a private CB&T account. The police investigation’s primary focus was an elite city-owned basketball team called the Georgia Blazers, for which East Marietta Basketball got money and equipment from sports-gear giant Nike Inc., and sent the funds and gear to Adams and Porter.
The city fired Adams, 48, on Sept. 28. Porter, 42, has been on administrative leave without pay since his arrest.
Adams’ attorney, Shevon Sutcliffe Thomas of Columbus, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday afternoon.
Metro Editor Chuck Williams contributed to this report.