TIFTON -- Agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation served a State of Georgia search warrant and locked the doors of Tift County's Office of Planning and Community Development (PCD) at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
At 10:50 p.m., GBI agents and Tift County Sheriff's Department (TCSD) investigators loaded approximately 20 boxes of records into the back of a pickup truck and left.
The department's director, Darrell Wiggins, stayed in the office with investigators the entire time. When he departed the office, Wiggins said he could not comment on what happened there until he had consulted his attorney, but that he would be forthcoming with a statement in the future.were still in the office at the Charles E. Kent Administrative Building.
Shortly after 4 p.m., GBI agents escorted three of the four employees of the office out of the building. Rusty Simpson, Wiggin's attorney, arrived at approximately 5:15 p.m. and stayed in the building for approximately one hour before leaving.
Major Jack Woolard of the TCSD said he and other deputies had been taking shifts guarding the door to the office on the second floor since 4 p.m. Tuesday.
"We are here to see that no records are taken out," Woolard said.
It is unknown at this time what specific records were being confiscated or the purpose for the raid.
Tift County Administrator Wayne Johnson said late Wednesday afternoon that he has told GBI and TCSD investigators over the last two days that "they can see anything they want."
"That is public information and certainly we are going to make it public," Johnson said.
When asked if he knew the purpose of the confiscation of records from the PCD, he said, "I can't comment on what I don't know about."
Johnson said he and Tift County Clerk Elaine Shiver were "invited not to attend" to what commissioners described as an emergency executive session meeting Monday night. All of the commissioners were present at the meeting. No minutes were taken of the meeting and Tift County attorney Rob Reinhardt was not present. The only other person present during the closed-door session was TCSD's Chief Deputy Bruce Willis.
Chairman Buddy Bryan, who answered questions late Wednesday from his home, said he knew the search warrant would be served and believes the office will be open Thursday for business.
"I would think so because there are certain responsibilities to be tended to there. I would think it would be business as usual," Bryan said.
A GBI agent on the scene refused to comment and referred reporters' questions to their supervisor, Mike Lewis, who could not be reached until Thursday.
Bryan said he was not sure of all the functions of the PCD office.
"That office operates somewhat seperate from the general goverment of the county," Bryan said. "I am not sure I know all the details of that office. I know that office operates somewhat seperate from the general government of the county."
The PCD is budgetted for fiscal year 2002 for approximately $218,388. This figure includes $144,493 in salaries for Wiggins, a housing coordinator, an accounting clerk and a staff assistant. One of Wiggins' duties is to oversee the county's Tift Lift operation, and other programs, which are funded at least partially by grants from the Federal Office of Housing and Urban Developlent.
To contact reporter Angie Thompson, call 382-4321, ext. 208.
Friday, August 31, 2001
Oscar Moss, 73, of Omega, died Monday, Aug. 27, 2001, at Gwinnett Medical Center. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Simmon Grove Baptist Church in Omega. Survivors include five brothers, John Wesley, Albert, Danny, Oscar and Ricky Moss; two daughters, Gerri Warren and Lorraine Parrish; and one sister, Jewell Stokes. Nixon Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Johnny Roberson, 69, of Tifton, died Sunday, Aug. 26, 2001, at Tift Regional Medical Center. Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, with burial at Oakridge Cemetery. Roberson is survived by his wife, Erselle Roberson of Tifton; four sons, Wendell Roberson and Kerry Roberson, both of Tifton, and Leonard Roberson and Eric Roberson, both of Atlanta; five daughters, Barbara Williams, Arleatha Richardson, Lillie Johnson and Wanda Brinkley, all of Tifton, and Cheryl Fielder of Atlanta; one brother, Oscar Roberson of Beaufort, S.C., and three sisters, Bernita Williams of Groveland, Fla., Henrietta Harpgrove of Pendleton, Ore., and Louise Roberson of BellGlade, Fla. The family will receive friends from 7 to 8 tonight at the chapel of Taylor and Son Funeral Home.
Elizabeth Ludden Barton, 75, died Friday, Aug. 24, 2001, in Union City. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, with burial at Greenwood Cemetery. Mrs. Barton is survived by one son, Elmore Barton of Miami; two daughters, Bobbie Jean Dickson of Riverdale and Linda Doyle of Miami; three brothers, Willie Ludden Jr. of Dallas, Texas, Joseph Ludden Sr. of Tifton and Charles Ludden of Sylvester; and three sisters, Mary Steele and Willie Mae Ludden, both of Tifton, and Ray Jean Henry of Chicago. Taylor and Son Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Debra Jean Barber, 47, of Lenox, died Thursday, Aug. 31, 2001, at Phoebe Putney Hospital in Albany. Funeral arrangements are incomplete and will be announced by Taylor and Son Funeral Home.
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