A hearing involve 13 defendants who are accused of collectively defrauding the school system of over $6 million over a period of years has been set for July 27.
Floyd County Superior Court Judge Jack Niedrach has had to postpone the hearings at least twice after courthouse staff tested positive for COVID-19. The courthouse reopened on June 22 after an emergency two-week closure.
The case was set to move forward this year — a previous scheduling order had the trial date set for July 27 — but it was halted under an emergency statewide judicial order issued by the Georgia Supreme Court in March.
Among the items expected to be heard in this month are motions to completely end the criminal case. Defense attorneys argue that the statute of limitations has expired for all of the charges. In another motion, several defendants, are asking the court to be tried separately.
According to the indictment, Derry Richardson used his position as maintenance director of the school system to create inflated, and in some cases completely fraudulent, invoices for both construction and maintenance projects.
He is accused of conspiring with the other defendants — which include his family and wife — to defraud the school system.
Richardson as well as Harry Bailey, Russell Burkhalter, David English, Rodney Holder, Dwayne Richardson, Jimmy Richardson, Lisa Richardson, Charles Sherman, Samuel Tucker, Robert Watson, Samuel Sprewell and David Fielder face RICO charges.
Several of the defendants also face theft by taking or bribery charges. While a majority of those accused were arrested in 2016, the criminal case only began to move forward in 2018 after a civil case was finalized.
Another loose end in the case is an appeal concerning a ruling to allow the district attorney to dismiss two flawed indictments in the Floyd County Schools’ RICO case.
That appeal is still pending before the Georgia Court of Appeals.