Items seized in Floyd County Schools RICO case

Derry Richardson's Summerville home at 241 Riverbluff Drive. (Kristina Wilder / RN-T.com)

This is the first report in a two-part series on the progression of the Floyd County police criminal RICO investigation. Part Two will run in Sunday’s issue of the Rome News-Tribune and will focus on what went into the biggest case two Floyd County police investigators have ever undertaken.

“It’s kind of like the taxpayers have paid twice.”

Mark Wallace, the Floyd County assistant police chief, made the comment after running over the line items of $429,920.94 in expenses accrued during the department’s almost three-year long RICO investigation.

Wallace spoke Wednesday during the county Public Safety Committee meeting, which was held in a conference room on the second floor of the Joint Law Enforcement Center that just a week before had acted as the “war room” for the investigation into alleged decade-long thefts from Floyd County Schools.

“It was amazing what all was in that room,” said Wallace, who, along with Floyd County police Maj. Jeff Jones, delivered the RICO case file to District Attorney Leigh Patterson last week. He said Jones was the architect of the investigation.

“He has lived this case,” Wallace said. “He knew he wanted to get the money back to the tax payers.”

The case file is made up of 3,000 pages, which filled three storage file boxes and had to be wheeled over to Patterson’s office at the courthouse with a hand truck.

“This is by far the biggest case we’ve ever investigated here in Floyd County,” said Jones.

The investigation opened up in October 2014, and has led to the arrests of 13 people, including Derry Richardson, the school system’s former maintenance director. They are each charged with inflating and falsifying invoices paid by the school system and violating the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and other crimes.

A court filing stated the amount of money and supplies stolen exceeds $5 million. However, Wallace said it may never be known exactly how much was taken.

“We had just taken it to the end of the road that we knew of,” said Wallace. “We had followed up on every lead that we had.”

It was time for the case to be put in the hands of the court, Wallace explained, which will hopefully soon lead to the closure the community wants.

However, more arrests are probable, following the opportunity for Patterson to examine the case file and decide if the actions of individuals named crossed the line into criminality, he continued.

He also expects more money to be seized moving forward.

Over $1 million in property and $531,260.80 cash has been seized in the case. But to get all that back, Jones and Wallace had to conduct over 250 interviews in four states — Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Washington — and review 476 total years of bank account and credit card data.

The men racked up 4,803 miles of air travel and drove an estimated 13,920 miles. There is also an estimated 19,382 man hours put into the case, with personnel expenses totaling $382,248.88.

There is a criminal case and a civil case. No indictments have been handed down in the criminal case and the civil case has not gone to trial.

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