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Dual probes into feeding program abuse underway

By Walter Geiger Two state agencies have begun criminal investigations into allegations of fraud with regard to government funds allocated for summer feeding programs here in Lamar County and surrounding communities. Those allegations involve April Smith-Scott of Barnesville and her firm A.D. Smith Community Services. Smith-Scott received nearly $1 million in funding for feeding programs beginning in 2007. Forensic audits determined Smith-Scott misspent $142,748.83. Demands for repayment were made with a deadline of June 30. Smith-Scott did not respond and has not offered repayment. After being stonewalled by the state attorney general’s office and officials at the state Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) regarding criminal proceedings against Smith-Scott, The Herald Gazette sought the help of Rep. Johnnie Caldwell. Caldwell wrote attorney general Chris Carr about the matter. That resulted in a response from senior assistant attorney general David S. McLaughlin who reported the Smith-Scott case has been referred to the AG’s special prosecutions unit and a criminal investigation is underway. The state inspector general’s office has also opened an investigation into the missing money. Bank records and other financial documents have been or will soon be subpoenaed. Additionally, according to McLaughlin, DECAL is pursuing various civil actions in an effort to recoup the money from Smith-Scott. The AG’s office told Rep. Caldwell the investigation is in its early stages and no timeline for completion is currently available.

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