Civil court hears RICO motion
Prosecutors say additional footwork done by a Floyd County police detective sparked their request to add nine parties to the already lengthy list of defendants in a civil RICO case involving a series of thefts from Floyd County Schools.
The motion seeks to add Johnson Controls Inc., Matthew Scott Musheno, Rodney Holder, James David Fielder, David English, Robert George Kaiser, Melvin Don Belvill, Footprints of Life and Southeastern Security Professionals to the list of more than 20 defendants.
“The investigation of this case is an enormous investigation,” Michael Lam bros, a special prosecutor appointed to take care of the case, told the court.
The state’s desire to add Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls Inc. came from an interview conducted by Floyd County police Maj. Jeff Jones with a midlevel employee of the company.
The employee admitted to taking the inflated invoices, Lambros said, which implicated the company itself.
“He also implicates other folks,” Lambros said referring to the proposed group of defendants. “This was a case where we didn’t know JCI was a participant.”
The Floyd County police investigative summary stated Johnson Controls received and paid for fake invoices from Steve Bevill, who has not been criminally charged at this point.
Bevill worked as a subcontractor for Johnson Controls to do work for the Floyd County Board of Education, a police summary states. Derry Richardson allegedly negotiated those contracts, insisted and demanded that Johnson hire Bevill to perform part of all of the work on a given project.
“Neither Steve Bevill nor his company SMD Construction performed any work or purchased any materials to perform any work under any of the contracts,” the summary stated.
Johnson met with police and provided over 25,000 documents, and the case has only been headed up primarily by Jones.
Lawyers for Johnson Controls say they would be at a serious disadvantage coming into the lawsuit this late in the game. The suit was originally filed two years ago.
Additionally, Johnson Controls’ attorney John Floyd argued, the state is seeking to add parties after the court imposed deadline and the filing does not contain any specific allegation.
Despite that, Floyd said, no specific instances of misconduct by Johnson Controls have been included in the reasons for adding them as a de fendant in the case.
The company had over 140 contracts with the Floyd County school system, Floyd said, but the state hasn’t listed any specific contracts for which they view as improper.
Attorneys for several other potential defendants named in the motion also joined in asking Floyd County Superior Court Judge Tami Colston not to approve the motion.
Several defendants have settled in the case. The most recent, Kadima Inc., a Buford-based company specializing in asbestos abatement, has also settled but no settlement documents have been filed, Lambros told the court.
This civil case is separate from another ongoing criminal case.
Both cases involve a series of alleged decade long thefts that includes charges of money laundering and payments for construction work that was never performed. Many of the people charged in the criminal case are also named in the civil suit.
The allegations came out in 2015. In June 2016, then Floyd County Schools’ maintenance director Derry Richardson and nine other alleged co-conspirators were arrested and charged with inflating and falsifying invoices paid by the school system.
They are each charged with violating the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and other crimes.
The filing stated the amount of money and supplies stolen exceeds $5 million.
Read this story online to see previous reports about the ongoing RICO case involving Floyd County Schools.