The defense attorney for the East Marietta Basketball Inc. director implicated in Columbus’ Parks and Recreation scandal has subpoenaed the city manager, a deputy city manager and the city finance director for a hearing set for noon Thursday.
Columbus attorney Frank Martin, who represents East Marietta Basketball director William Fox, said he also had Muscogee sheriff’s deputies deliver subpoenas to the city’s internal auditor and three Parks and Recreation Department workers.
The subpoenas went Tuesday to City Manager Isaiah Hugley, Deputy City Manager Lisa Goodwin, Finance Director Pam Hodge and internal auditor John Redmond. The Parks and Rec workers subpoenaed were Becky Glisson, the department’s finance manager; Margaret Brown, manager of the recreational services division; and Shelley Stephens, a recreational program specialist.
Martin said he needs their testimony to support motions he filed on Fox’s behalf. He has sought to suppress evidence related to bank accounts, which he says police obtained without a search warrant or subpoena. He also has challenged prosecutors’ claims that the statute of limitations on charges against his client hasn’t run out because authorities only recently learned of the allegedly illegal activities involving a Parks and Rec “Innovative Sports” program.
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Martin argues that if city officials knew what was going on in Parks and Rec before then-Mayor Jim Wetherington ordered an audit in September 2009, the prosecution can’t claim that information was never discovered until the audit.
Fox is one of three defendants to whom prosecutors are offering plea deals in the case. The others are fired Columbus Parks and Recreation Director Tony Adams and recreation specialist Herman Porter, both accused of funneling more than $200,000 in public funds to a private bank account related to an Innovative Sports basketball team called the Georgia Blazers.
Through East Marietta Basketball Inc., the Blazers got money and equipment from sports-gear giant Nike Inc. Authorities say the funds should have gone to the city, not to a private account.
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.
Columbus attorney Shevon Sutcliffe Thomas represents Adams, 48, who with Porter was arrested Aug. 24. Thomas confirmed Tuesday that he’s negotiating with prosecutors. “My client hasn’t accepted anything,” he said. “We’re just talking.”
He hopes to meet with prosecutors before Thursday’s hearing, he said.
Atlanta attorney Manny Arora, who represents Porter, 42, said Tuesday that his client also had not accepted a plea deal. Martin said Tuesday that Fox had made no deal with prosecutors, either.
Last week prosecutors and top city leaders had a meeting to discuss what deals might be offered. 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.
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.
Superior Court Judge John Allen is to hold Thursday’s hearing in his seventh-floor courtroom in the Government Center tower. Whitaker said prosecutors will accept no plea deals after that.