Ex-Employee Claims Atlanta Mayor Used Grant Funds for Cars

ATLANTA (CN) — The former business manager of the Atlanta Police Department claims in court she was fired after discovering the city illegally used federal grant money to buy cars for Mayor Kasim Reed and provide him with an officer as chauffeur.

In a complaint filed in Fulton County Superior Court, Tracy Woodard says she discovered the alleged illegal activity while investigating other purported improper fund allocations within the department.

Woodard claims that federal money earmarked for purchasing police patrol vehicles was being used to buy personal cars for the mayor and members of his family instead.

Woodard also alleges that Atlanta Police Department officers were driving and escorting Mayor Reed and his family on personal errands.

The April 5 complaint states that the department engaged in other illegal activity as well. According to the complaint, the department ran an “incentive” program to reward officers working overtime during the holidays with money from federal drug seizure programs. The money was never approved to be used for holiday overtime compensation, Woodard says.

She claims that shortly after she told Police Chief George Turner and Deputy Police Chief Erika Shields about the findings of her investigation, she was told she was being laid off and her position was being eliminated.

Woodard believes that she was terminated in retaliation for her attempt to blow the whistle on corruption within the police department and city hall.

In November 2016, local news outlet WSB-TV aired an investigation of reports that Reed routinely traveled in SUVs driven by Atlanta Police Department officers. The station found that Reed regularly used vehicles with blue lights and sirens to navigate the city — and the news team reported that it saw the mayor’s car arrive to a Google Fiber launch party with blue lights flashing and sirens sounding.

Reed is currently embroiled in a corruption scandal which is being investigated by the FBI.

In February, Atlanta’s city hall was raided by the FBI after evidence emerged suggesting Adam Smith, the city’s chief procurement officer, may have been part of a $1 million bribery scandal.

According to the complaint, between 2010 and 2015, contractors paid the bribes to city officials in order to get city construction projects.

Reed has repeatedly stated he was not involved in any illegal activities, and despite the fanfare in the media over various allegations, no one in the mayor’s office has been indicted on any charge.

Anne Torres, the spokeswoman for the mayor’s office, said “The City of Atlanta has not yet been served with the complaint. Accordingly, we are unable to comment at this time.”

The former business manager seeks reinstatement with back-pay plus interest and unspecified compensatory damages.

She is represented by Micah Barry of The Kirby G. Smith Law Firm in Atlanta.

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