“You cannot falsify official state reports for your own personal or political ends–it is a crime, under OCGA 16-10-20. In other words, no legislative reform is needed to make that happen. The legislature has already outlawed the behavior. Now the courts in Georgia need to start enforcing it.” Attorney Stephen Humphreys representing Dr. Tricoli.
A motion was just filed to reinstate Dr. Tricoli as president of Georgia Perimeter College. I will include the full motion for interlocutory injunction below as a PDF embedded file that you may download.
An injunction is ordinarily elicited from other proceedings and is basically just a court order. Interlocutory simply means temporary or provisional in nature. So this is an attempt to reinstate Dr. Tricoli to his rightful position until a more thorough investigation and permanent solution can be found.
I have been trying to independently gather the pieces to this story for a few months now. I originally became interested in this particular case after seeing an interview on local news around that time. I have no connection to Georgia Perimeter College or to Dr. Tricoli prior to my seeing that news report. I have never met him in person nor have I met Rob Watts, Hank Huckaby or anyone else. In fact I didn’t even know Georgia Perimeter College existed prior to seeing the story about Dr. Tricoli on the news. I have no dog in this hunt in other words. I have no axe to grind and simply want to see justice served. I am simply an unbiased observer that thought there was a lot more to this story than was reported in that short TV segment. In case you are unfamiliar with these cases here are a few media links. I say cases because there are several other cases besides the one involving Dr. Tricoli.
Investigator sought to examine ex-University System employees’ cases By Janel Davis Atlanta Journal & Constitution
Barbara Dooley, Georgia Radio Network Audio Interview with Attorney Humphreys
As much as I am sure Rob Watts (interim GPC president) and others within the University System of Georgia and Board of Regents would likely wish this story to go away there is much yet to learn. There is still much to this story that remains to be discovered and exposed and I am a rather tenacious individual very much in keeping with the tenacity of the bulldog mascot I chose as the logo for this website.
I have noticed a massive spike in visitors to my website from the USG, BOR, GPC and many other state agencies so I am very confident my articles have not gone unnoticed. Since this article will be read as well let me give you some very good free advice that others have paid good money to hear. It is always the right time to do the right thing. In other words it is not too late to reinstate Dr. Tricoli nor to address other legitimate grievances involving Denise Caldon, Dr. Benedek, Todd Brandenburg and so many others that you have swept under the rug. You may have hoped they would simply give up out of despair and retreat into obscurity but I think you may have underestimated the resolve of those who are falsely accused and harmed by no fault of their own.
The degree of arrogance and hubris in these cases is appalling. Before the USG and BOR dig a hole any deeper for themselves, I strongly urge you to reevaluate some recent poor decisions made in haste or simply in bad judgement. I also strongly urge you to look at a top to bottom down reevaluation of your entire system and certain key personnel that always seem to be front and center in controversies. The Feds also don’t take kindly to a misuse and violations of federal funds hint hint…
Mr. Huckaby I still do not think you are qualified nor the person best suited to be chancellor but here is your chance to prove me wrong. Start an investigation to consider these charges and appoint a team of independent investigators who have no connection to the people they are investigating. The entire University System of Georgia is broken and there appears to be a lot of ethically challenged individuals wielding a lot of power fueled by egos, vendettas, and hubris. It is time to clean house and restore some sanity and integrity to the USG and the BOR.
A few questions that deserve a deeper investigation. I would appreciate official responses to the following questions:
Did Fort valley state university officials with knowledge of the USG ever give personal loans to employees from the college budget? And did these include federal funds? What was Rob Watts and Ms. Ramachandran involvement with these loans? Why was the Fort Valley president not fired?
Fuchko was the chief audit officer and associate vice chancellor of Internal Audit for the University System of Georgia since 2009, yet in my research he never addresses the financial problems at GPC until Tricoli brings them to his attention in 2012. Fuchko was copied on several financial reports 2009-2012 from the state addressing the college’s financial situation, yet he did nothing for three years. Rob Watts was also privy to this information so why did he not act sooner if this was also public knowledge?
Vice Chancellor Wrigley commented that he was “flabbergasted the system allowed the deficit to go on for so long.” The irony is he’s writing to John Fuchko, who was in his position as chief audit officer and associate vice chancellor of Internal Audit for the University System of Georgia for three years.
On March 26, it was no big deal to USG Associate Vice Chancellor Riden that GPC along with other schools have a “negative unrestricted position.” (This means they are spending their reserves down.) He writes, “If you look at your June 30, 2011, financial statements on the Statement of Net Assets, your unrestricted net assets are (-)4,55,128….I know this doesn’t look good to have a negative unrestricted position, but many schools face this same problem.”
After the budget issue at GPC comes to light, USG Associate Vice Chancellor Riden changes his tune and on June 19, 2012, 5:45 e-mail, he expresses concern about GGC: “I am sending the financial analysis worksheet….this way you can see that auxiliaries is headed toward a negative overall operating position in 2013.
Huckaby Blamed Tricoli then Abruptly Changes USG Budget Oversight Review Process in an email on June 4th, 2012. “Effective oversight of fiscal operations is a shared responsibility among our presidents, our chief business officers, and the University System Office. Our external and internal auditors are partners in this endeavor as they fulfill their associated roles, respectively, of rendering an opinion on our financial statements and in performing internal audits. In an effort to strengthen our fiscal operations, the System Office will be implementing enhanced review of each institution’s financials.” He then listed a very long and detailed list of very big changes.
If the system wasn’t broken before and this was simply the fault of the GPC financial team and no one else then why would any changes have needed to be implemented?
The Rob Watts Connection
Does a bow tie mark a man as suspect or sterling? I have always been suspicious of men in bow ties and it seems I am not alone. Tucker Carlson is a well known bow tie wearing douche but my suspicion of Rob Watts has little to do with his poor fashion sense. It is simply because he always seems front and center of so many issues over the years and also was in a position to bring these budget concerns to the forefront and yet did nothing.
Exactly why is he considered a budget expert? What are his qualifications? From what I can tell he has been asleep at the helm for a very long time. I am curious to understand why this bow tie wearing sycophant is considered an expert at anything other than being a brown nosing sidler. Because if he had truly been an “expert” at budgets he would have surely discovered all these problems in his years in exile in the central office since that appears to have been the main part of his job duties to assist and supervise colleges with exactly these issues. He also should have proactively monitored and been aware of any problems and notified the chancellor and colleges long before it reached a tipping point. But on the other hand if he wanted to return as an interim president and escape the exile and boredom of the central office, then his plan went exceedingly well.
There are many theories floating around the aether which while disturbing, are extremely plausible and in my estimation far more probable than the official line that is being bandied about. But one central figure always seems to be involved front and center at all of them and that is Robb Watts.
Did Watts remove Jacque Belcher and gives her two years of salary in trade for her resignation? Did Watts and Belcher even get along or did she send him to exile? Why did Watts mysteriously become the interim president of GPC when both Belcher and Tricoli left when he is neither academically qualified nor does he possess the requisite financial or accounting skills to manage these types of budgets? Many might add nor the personality for such a position.
Was Watts behind the push to create Georgia Gwinnett College? I am also curious to hear what involvement he had with Skybridge consultants. Why did Watts insist on keeping Caruth and claim he was the best budget officer in Georgia? Watts was the one that not only vouched for Caruth but also prevented him from being replaced and now it seems Caruth was the central figure that screwed up the budget.
Watts has claimed he corrected the $25 million shortfall but is now on a spending spree which I find both hard to understand and believe. I would think it would take far longer than a year to correct that type of shortfall and they would want to build up a rainy day reserve fund of at least $20 million before they start spending on unnecessary “pretty face” type of spending. Not to mention I would think hiring faculty and building student enrollment up again would also take priority over expensive fountains and tennis courts.
I would also love to see the emails during the time Watts was deciding which of those 282 or so employees would be fired. But apparently they aren’t available due to a policy Watts implemented to delete emails older than one week old which is illegal if this report is to be believed.
I have a list of 100 more questions as well but this will suffice for now. The motion filed today will hopefully begin to get answers to many of these questions and likely raise many more.
The citizens of Georgia demand a full and comprehensive police forensic audit to get to the bottom of these very serious allegations. I also make you a promise that we at Georgia Watchdog will not rest until a full and impartial accounting is released and we get to the truth.
Below is a statement from the attorney that just filed the motion. Below this statement is the text of the motion. Interesting reading to say the least.. 😯 .
Following Statement was issued by Stephen F. Humphreys
Even pre-discovery, from open records requests (even though the USG has failed to respond to the most potentially incriminating document requests) and requests for admissions related to the Attorney General’s Motion to Dismiss, I felt the evidence supporting Anthony Tricoli’s case was so strong (with many of the criminal RICO predicate acts we alleged admitted), and his removal from office so wrong and unlawful, that I filed a motion for an injunction immediately restoring him to his position as Georgia Perimeter College president pending resolution of the action as a whole.
“The motion filed in DeKalb Superior Court yesterday afternoon is attached below. The RICO predicate acts in former GPC president Anthony Tricoli’s case are almost as extensively documented as they are in Dezso Benedek’s case–where we actually have written documentation of UGA officials including the Office of Legal Affairs orchestrating a campaign with the knowledge of the Attorney General to impersonate UGA students and send out their private information including Social Security numbers in sham correspondence in the names of the students, to log onto computer networks in the students’ names, while actively concealing this activity from the students–which of course, by itself, violates numerous state and federal criminal privacy and identity fraud statutes–in order to manufacture fake evidence that Benedek had falsified transfer credit transcripts from Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest (a tenure revocation charge that Michael Adams, the UGA Office of Legal Affairs, and the Attorney General all knew was false since the Rector of Eotvos Lorand had personally confirmed the authenticity of his school’s transfer credit transcripts for UGA students directly to UGA Provost Arnett Mace–though the Attorney General, in another common pattern, did not produce these documents, which we had to acquire from Hungary–something Michael Adams obviously had not counted on when bringing these knowingly false charges based on knowingly fabricated evidence, while concealing the exculpatory documents). All of this documentation was presented to the Board of Regents, which ignored it.
TEXT OF MOTION BELOW
MOTION FOR INTERLOCUTORY INJUNCTION
Comes now Plaintiff Anthony Tricoli pursuant to OCGA §§ 9-11-65 & 16-14-6(a&b), moves the Court for an order restoring him to his position as President of Georgia Perimeter College pending the outcome of this litigation, and shows the Court as follows:
Plaintiff Tricoli is filing this motion for an interlocutory injunction because prior pleadings and accompanying evidentiary submissions in this action have demonstrated a strong likelihood of success on the merits, a balance of equities decidedly in his favor, irreparable harm to Tricoli in the total destruction of his academic career, and a strong
public interest in ridding the University System of Georgia (USG) of a plague of self-serving criminal violations–that pass for business as usual–and restoring the USG to the mission of educating the young people of Georgia and building a strong and vibrant economy for every citizen of our state.
Plaintiff Anthony Tricoli was named President of Georgia Perimeter College (GPC) in 2006. Tricoli replaced Rob Watts, who had been serving as interim president of GPC. Upon Tricoli’s hiring, Watts was moved to the central office of the University of System of Georgia, (USG), where Watts became Chief Operating Officer and Two-Year College Section Head, making Watts the direct supervisor at the USG of Tricoli as president of GPC. When Watts left GPC and moved to the USG, Watts insisted that Tricoli keep the GPC budget chief that Watts had hired, Ron Carruth. Over time and with experience, Tricoli’s confidence in Carruth diminished, but Watts would not allow Tricoli to replace Carruth, insisting Carruth was “the best budget officer in Georgia.”
At the time of Tricoli’s hiring in 2006, the USG faced a budget crisis and had decided to close one of GPC’s campuses, which was expected to result in a loss of 7000 students and $30 million in revenue.
Because of this budget crisis, Watts ordered Tricoli to work with Carruth to eliminate almost 300 jobs at GPC as a budget cutting measure.
Instead of following Watts’ directive, Tricoli undertook a dynamic promotional campaign and increased GPC’s enrollment and revenues, both of which doubled in the course of Tricoli’s presidency from 2006 to 2012. No GPC employees lost their jobs. Tricoli’s annual contract was enthusiastically renewed by the Board of Regents and Chancellor Erroll Davis every year from 2007 through 2011, and Tricoli was dubbed the USG’s “rising star” for his energy, devotion to his job, and accomplishments in raising the enrollment, revenue, and stature of GPC.
Tricoli continued to take active steps to secure GPC’s financial position. In response to issues raised by state auditors and Carruth’s lack of cooperation, Tricoli sought to have Carruth removed. Again, Watts refused. In addition to bringing in increased revenues, Tricoli sought to eliminate waste in the budget. When Tricoli inquired into an issue raised by state auditors, he learned for the first time that GPC was paying an outfit called Skybridge Consultants over a million dollars a year. This consulting contract had been initiated by Watts and Carruth during their term together at GPC and never disclosed to Tricoli when
he assumed the presidency. When Tricoli determined that GPC received no value for this large recurring annual payout to Skybridge, he ordered the contract terminated. Skybridge was subsequently reassigned to consult on a USG project in Sandersville, Georgia favored by the Board of Regents Chairman Ben Tarbutton of Sandersville, Georgia.
Tricoli’s dramatic rise and revival of GPC came to a screeching halt in late April of 2012. For some unknown reason, Tricoli’s annual performance evaluation required by USG policy—which was conducted by Rob Watts from 2007 to 2011, and was supposed to be conducted by new Chancellor Henry Huckaby in 2012—never occurred before the USG policy deadline for notice of renewal or non-renewal of Tricoli’s annual contract in April. USG policy required the evaluation and renewal decision to occur by the Board of Regent’s regular April meeting. Huckaby never conducted a 2012 evaluation and Tricoli received no notice after the April Board meeting, contrary to the USG policy.
Instead, on April 25, Carruth came into Tricoli’s office to inform him that the school faced a budget deficit of between one and four million dollars. Tricoli was shocked to hear that because the month before, in March of 2012, Carruth had reported in his official report to
the GPC executive committee chaired by Tricoli that there was a $3.6 million fiscal year surplus and a normal budget cycle, and Carruth had reported even rosier numbers in the past. Annual USG budget hearings and the annual performance evaluations conducted by Rob Watts had never mentioned any issue of deficit spending.
Upon hearing of the problem, Tricoli contacted the USG, informed Chancellor Huckaby, and requested assistance from the USG budget and compliance officers to determine the actual extent of the problem, as Carruth gave uncertain and inconsistent responses. The next day the USG announced that GPC was facing a $16 million budget deficit. A Special Report later conducted by the USG, in the form of a self-audit, found that Carruth had been spending GPC reserves without informing Tricoli. The Special Report also confirmed that two sets of books had been kept at GPC, one informing Tricoli of the rosy budget numbers and another reporting deficit spending to the USG and state auditors over a period of years. The Report also found that Carruth and other budget officers had been emailing back and forth about a looming deficit crisis, without informing Tricoli. It is undisputed that these emails go back to at least as far as January 2012, well before Carruth reported a budget surplus and normal budget process for the fiscal year to Tricoli in
March of 2012, only weeks before the announcement of the $16 million deficit. USG officials said they had known of the deficit spending, exhausting the reserves built up by Tricoli, for at least three years— though this was never mentioned in a USG budget hearing or performance evaluation.
The same day the $16 million deficit was announced, and before any investigation took place, Huckaby demanded Tricoli’s resignation. A series of reports in the Atlanta media soon emerged–with USG officials, including Huckaby and Tarbutton, as the named sources–in which Tricoli was roundly blamed for the GPC deficit crisis. The Special Report released in September of 2012 also laid the blame squarely on Tricoli’s shoulders, despite the admissions that Carruth, Watts, and others either actively misrepresented or withheld disclosure of the deficit spending information from Tricoli.
When Tricoli refused to give in to Huckaby’s threats in April of 2012 to resign or be fired, Huckaby offered Tricoli a position in the USG central office if he would resign quietly. After Tricoli, under duress of continuing media attacks and threats from Huckaby, agreed to resign as GPC president and accepted the USG position, Huckaby reneged on the promised USG position. Instead, Huckaby and the USG purported to not
renew Tricoli’s contract as GPC president at its May meeting—though the deadline under the USG policy for giving notice of non-renewal had already passed. If the USG had fired Tricoli past the deadline for notice of non-renewal, they would have had to give Tricoli a due process appeal hearing. Tricoli requested one anyway, in order to investigate and present evidence of what had occurred, including the knowingly false reports concerning the GPC budget, but Huckaby refused to afford Tricoli a hearing.
After this illegal ouster of Tricoli, the USG attempted to cover its tracks by changing numerous policies that applied to the situation. The USG changed the policy that allowed Carruth to spend college reserves without authorization from anyone—such reserve spending now requires notification to the president and written authorization by the USG. The USG changed its policy to require future presidents to attend budget meetings that Tricoli was not supposed to attend under then- existing policy (the Special Report faulted Tricoli for not attending those staff budget meetings, though Tricoli acted in accordance with the policy that existed at the time). The USG changed the standard written offer and acceptance forms that made presidential employment subject to USG policies, such as the policies requiring annual evaluations and
notice of non-renewal by the April Board meeting. In August of 2014, after commencement of this litigation, the USG changed that policy to allow notice of non-renewal after the May Board meeting—consistent with the notice the USG purported to give Tricoli in May of 2012.
The USG’s self-audit, the “Special Report” released over four months after Tricoli’s ouster, did not make a definitive statement on whether theft, fraud, or other criminal activity was involved in the $16 million deficit. The only overspending it identified involved a misallocation of $6.7 million in employee fringe benefits by human resources director James Rasmus, who remains in that position today. That left over $9 million in state and federal funds unaccounted for. The USG has not investigated further. The Attorney General announced he was conducting an investigation, but this never occurred. The Attorney General responded to CBS News that he relied instead on the USG self- audit in which over $9 million in state and federal funds remains AWOL.
Upon Tricoli’s ouster, Watts resumed his former position as GPC interim president, where he remains today. Watts cannot be made permanent president because he lacks the required credentials such as a doctoral degree. Watts has now served in this, his second stint as GPC
president for over two years, though USG policy on interim appointments is that they should not last more than a year.
Tricoli, on the other hand, has been irreparably harmed in that, after being falsely and very publicly blamed in the media for the GPC deficit crisis, based on knowingly false state agency reports by Defendants, he was ousted as GPC president under unsavory circumstances and has been unable to obtain another job in his profession. He lost his home in Atlanta. He has applied for over 200 university administration positions across the country, but has been unable to secure a job—after being the USG’s “rising star.” When Tricoli has been called back for interviews for jobs in his chosen profession, Defendants have actually contacted the schools in question to call their attention to the negative Atlanta Journal-Constitution articles. Schools have objected to the USG concerning this interference–which they say harmed Tricoli’s chances of securing a position. No one at the USG has ever responded. Tricoli currently remains unemployable in his chosen field.
For purposes of this Motion for an Interlocutory Injunction restoring Tricoli to his position as GPC president, Plaintiff relies on Defendant’s Responses to Plaintiff’s Requests for Admissions
(Defendants Responses / Admissions), Plaintiff’s Requests fro Admissions (Plaintiff’s Requests), Plaintiff’s Notice of Filing of Evidence of Written Contract and Motion for Sanctions (Plaintiff’s Notice), Plaintiff’s Supplement to Notice of Filing of Evidence of Written Contract (Plaintiff’s Supplement), and the Affidavit of Anthony Tricoli, as well as their supporting exhibits. In addition, all facts stated herein will be averred in Plaintiff Tricoli’s Amended Verified Complaint in support of this Motion.
Background Summary of Legal Issues
In the course of the pleadings, Defendants have admitted much of the criminal conduct from which Tricoli’s claims arise. Upon challenge by the Attorney General to make Open Records requests and present evidence supporting his claims (ironically, a duty that does not fall to Plaintiff Tricoli at the motion to dismiss stage), Plaintiff has obtained and filed overwhelming evidence, supported and verified by his Affidavit and Defendant’s admissions, that Defendants both knowingly breached Tricoli’s employment contract and violated USG policy in ousting him from the presidency of Georgia Perimeter College (GPC). Moreover, the Attorney General has admitted to a pattern of criminal acts by University System of Georgia (USG) Defendants, for which the
Georgia RICO Act provides injunctive relief. OCGA §§ 16-14-3(6), 16-14- 3(9)(A), 16-14-4 & 16-14-6(a).
The Attorney General has claimed sovereign immunity to Tricoli’s breach of contract claims, asserting that Tricoli has no written contract on which to sue—despite the written, mutually-signed offer and acceptance forms stating terms of employment, including application of USG policy to presidential employment.
There is no merit to the Attorney General’s arguments that the knowingly false reports on the Georgia Perimeter College (GPC) budget in violation of OCGA § 16-10-20 merely breached some private duty to the Plaintiff, conferring tort immunity on the state government defendants. Nor is there any legal basis for the Attorney General’s argument that Tricoli was not entitled to rely on these reports on matters under the jurisdiction of the State, or that the obligation fell on Tricoli to perceive this duplicitous game and pierce the veil of the knowingly false set of books in order to redirect his attention to the real set of books—the one withheld from him that had not been falsified. OCGA §§ 16-14-2 (legislative intent of Georgia RICO is to protect state from harm and prevent subversion of its economy) & 16-10-20
(knowingly false report sufficient to complete the criminal RICO predicate act).
Similarly, the position taken by the USG and the Attorney General is that, on the one hand, the information showing a $16 million deficit was readily and publicly available for a period of two to three years. Defendants’ Response to Request No. 20. On the other hand, these same state officials claim they were not aware of it until they used that information to oust Tricoli in April and May of 2012. Plaintiff’s Supp., p. 9, Exh 6 (Regents Chairman Tarbutton claims the USG had not previously known of the state audits and financial statements contradicting the official budget reports made to Tricoli by GPC and USG budget officials). That, obviously, is so patently self-contradictory that it cannot be given any credence as a defense. In fact, these self- contradictory claims are themselves knowing misrepresentations in violation of OCGA § 16-10-20 (knowingly false report on matter under state jurisdiction), and therefore Georgia RICO predicate acts.
In addition, in the USG Special Report produced by Defendants themselves (Tricoli Affidavit, Exh. 5), the Attorney General abdicated his responsibilities and ceded investigation and oversight to the USG, which was allowed to conduct a “self-audit” to clear itself of wrongdoing, even
though the Report admits that it cannot account for over $9 million in GPC spending of state and federal funds during fiscal year 2012. That Report is also truly special in that it holds Tricoli accountable for the sudden $16 million budget deficit—that appeared in April 2012, a month after the chief GPC budget officer, Defendant Ron Carruth, reported a $3.6 million surplus and a “normal budget process” in March of 2012, and after Defendants Rob Watts and Hank Huckaby both failed to mention anything about deficit spending in USG budget hearings or Tricoli’s annual performance evaluation required by USG Policies 2.3 and 2.4.2 prior to April each year. Plaintiff’s Supp., Exh. 11. The budget reporting discrepancies were not accidental or even attributable to incompetence in light of the Special Report’s admission that system budget officials were frantically emailing each other back and forth about the impending budgetary train wreck as early as January 2012, while excluding Tricoli from these communications. Tricoli Aff., Exhs. 1 & 5. This use of the USG computer network to effect this fraudulent scheme to deceive Tricoli on the actual state of the GPC budget is also a Georgia RICO predicate act. OCGA § 16-9-90 et seq., the Georgia Computer Systems Protection Act (GCSPA), OCGA § 16-14-
3(9)(A)(xxviii). See Plaintiff’s Supp., Exh. 12 (USG’s standard GCSPA employee criminal liability acknowledgement form).
Nonetheless, the Special Report found Tricoli miraculously responsible for that $19.6 million point swing between a $3.6 million surplus and a $16 million deficit (sometimes reported as a $25 million deficit and a 28.4 million point swing), within a month’s time, by citing USG policies and procedures that were not in place at the time, but which the USG changed after the fact in an attempt to hold Tricoli accountable. E.g., Plaintiff’s Supp. pp 10-11 & Exh. 7 (reference to USG policies removed from USG president contracts).
In an even bolder gambit, the Special Report, in which the USG audited itself and absolved itself of all blame, faulted President Tricoli— the same President Tricoli who by all accounts led GPC out of the budget crisis he inherited when he took the job in 2006 and built up a $20 million reserve fund by 2008–for wasteful, uncontrolled spending. One example of wasteful spending cited is quite revealing. It was the $1.5 million a year paid to Skybridge, consultants hired by Defendants Rob Watts and Ron Carruth prior to Tricoli’s arrival at GPC. Tricoli Aff., Exh. 5. The existence of this contract was withheld from Tricoli for the first several years of his presidency. When Tricoli discovered it through
budgetary due diligence, and determined that Skybridge Consultants, hired through their previous USG personal and political connections, did not actually perform any work or provide any benefit to GPC, Tricoli ordered the contract terminated. Yet there it is in the USG Special Report as an example of Tricoli’s fiscal mismanagement. Bold as that sounds, Defendants did not stop there, however. They went on to report to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, despite the admissions in the Special Report that Carruth spent GPC reserves while withholding that information from Tricoli (Tricoli Aff., Exh. 1 & Defendants’ Response to Requests 19 & 20), that Tricoli had personally “dipped into” GPC’s reserves to create the budget crisis. Plaintiff’s Supp., Exhs. 5-6. After Tricoli was blamed for wasting the reserves he created, though the Special Report admits that Carruth spent them without Tricoli’s knowledge, the USG went back and changed the policy that allowed Carruth to spend down the reserves on his own authority to instead require prior written approval to use reserve funds. Plaintiif’s Notice., p. 6. These and other knowing misrepresentations riddling the Special Report are violations of the Georgia Criminal Code, OCGA § 16-10-20.
The Attorney General has actually admitted to the means by which the USG attempted to cover its tracks by changing USG policies
after the fact. See Defendants’ Response to Request No. 10. The USG changed policies after the fact to place Tricoli in non-compliance for purposes of the attempts to lay all blame on him in the Special Report. Defendants also altered USG policy after the fact to camouflage its own violation of policies in place at the time of Tricoli’s illegal ouster. Thus stands the corruption-ridden milieu in which Tricoli was ousted, and the grounds on which he seeks immediate re-instatement.
Defendant Admissions and Self-contradictions in Public Statements on Matters under State Jurisdiction
The scenario described above, demonstrating a pattern of racketeering activity pursuant to OCGA § 16-14-1 et seq., is based largely on admissions by the Attorney General in Defendant’s Response to Plaintiff’s Request for Admissions (Defendants’ Responses). In other instances, Defendants’ purported denials, in response to Plaintiff’s Requests for Admissions, are directly contradicted by Defendants’ own records.
Contradicting Defendants’ denial of Request for Admission No. 6, for example, the Huckaby letter of May 10, 2012 conclusively shows that Defendants’ purported to give notice of non-renewal of Tricoli’s
contract in May of 2012, a month after the contractual deadline according to USG policy. Defendants’ Response, p. 7; Plaintiff’s Supplement, p. 7 & Exh. 4
Defendants admit that the relevant policy in place at the time, USG 2.4.2, called for notice of non-renewal in April, and was changed after the fact and during the pendency of this litigation to conform to Defendants’ actions by re-setting the deadline for May. Response to Request No. 10.
It is undisputed that Defendants did not afford Plaintiff an annual performance review prior to the notice of non-renewal as required by USG 2.3.
Defendants admit that the USG is a state entity within the meaning of OCGA § 16-10-20, such that knowing misrepresentations by and through the USG are violations of that criminal statute and a RICO predicate act. Response to Request 11.
The Attorney General’s denials that (1) Tricoli was made a firm offer to reassign to the USG central office, which (2) Tricoli accepted in writing, and that (3) Defendants subsequently ousted him after
procuring his resignation as GPC president in this duplicitous fashion by (4) purporting to not renew his annual contract as GPC president–are all contradicted by Defendants’ own public statements as recorded by WABE, the Atlanta Business Chronicle, and the Atlanta Journal- Constitution. Responses to Requests 12-18. These knowingly false, self- contradicted denials support an award of litigation expenses under OCGA §§ 9-15-14 & 13-6-11. The knowingly false statements to the media, memorialized in Plaintiff’s Supplement were also violations of OCGA § 16-10-20. Plaintiff’s Supplement pp. 8-9, 12-14 & Exhs 5, 6 & 8- 10. Consistent with Defendants’ demonstrably false denials of these statements, they were made with the intent to harm Plaintiff Tricoli via a scheme to defraud transmitted by wire, radio, or television in violation of 18 USC § 1343, also a Georgia RICO predicate act.
Defendants admit that “employees of GPC’s Office of Financial and Administrative Affairs” were sending emails “in January of 2012 that referenced declines in fund balances “over the past several fiscal years” causing shortfalls that “required external resources to ensure that GPC could meet its short-term operational needs” in April of 2012. The Attorney General denies that anyone outside of the GPC’s finance office
received the emails, attempting to shield the USG and Attorney General’s office, but by the same token admitting that the violations were committed by the referenced GPC employees, Defendants Ron Carruth, Sheletha Champion, and Mark Gerspacher. Response to Request 19. These admitted emails referencing declining reserves confirm the RICO predicate acts because they occurred at the same time the very same Defendants were, according to GPC official reports on matters under state jurisdiction within the meaning of OCGA § 16-10- 20, reporting to Plaintiff Tricoli that GPC was operating at a revenue surplus under a “normal budget process.” Plaintiff Supp., p. 16, Exh. 11; Tricoli Aff., Exh. 4. They also violate the GCSPA and 18 USC § 1343.
The Attorney General of Georgia makes the accusation that Tricoli “did not perform the necessary financial due diligence associated with his responsibilities as President,” while at the same time admitting that- -contrary to the knowingly false budget reports made to Tricoli– Defendants Watts, Huckaby, Wrigley, Fuchko, and Tarbutton all had ready access to “Annual Financial Reports,…basis and Budgetary Compliance reports, operating results, cash flow statements, and audit issues” giving them ample notice of budget shortfalls “for fiscal years
2009, 2010, and 2011.” Response to Request No. 20. Likewise, the USG’s Office of Internal Audit and Compliance (OIAC) had access to the same information. Response to Request 19.
No USG Defendant ever shared such a concern about deficit spending with Tricoli during those years—at the same time it is undisputed that he was being given knowingly false reports on these matters. Responses to Plaintiff’s Open Records requests–that so far have not been forthcoming from the USG–will demonstrate no mention of any budget shortfall in USG Budget Hearings and annual performance evaluations by Watts and Huckaby—at the same time that GPC budget officials were, as Defendants admit, relaying knowingly false information to Tricoli. The USG’s OIAC, despite claiming to have had access to this information since 2009, was also never heard from on this issue until April of 2012. Response to Request 19.
All knowingly false statements in the Responses, intending to misrepresent or deceive and contradicted by Defendants’ own public records and public statements on matters under state jurisdiction, are themselves violations of OCGA § 16-10-20.
Authority for relief requested
Plaintiff Tricoli filed this action as authorized by OCGA §16-14- 6(c), which provides that “any person injured by reason of any [RICO] violation…shall have a cause of action.” Such action is authorized against “any person” conducting a RICO enterprise, which includes any association including “governmental entities” such as GPC, the USG, and the Attorney General’s office. OCGA § 16-14-3(6). In particular, Georgia RICO makes it “unlawful for any person”—through a pattern of racketeering activity, such as the systematic violations of OCGA § 16-10- 20 admitted by Defendants in this action–to maintain control of such a governmental entity enterprise. OCGA § 16-14-4(a). It is also “unlawful for any person employed by or associated with any [such governmental entity] enterprise to conduct or participate in, directly or indirectly, such enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity,” such as the admitted OCGA § 16-10-20 and 18 USC § 1343 violations. OCGA 16-14- 4(b). Moreover, Georgia RICO prohibits government employees in a governmental entity RICO enterprise from conspiring or endeavoring to violate any provisions of the statute, OCGA § 16-14-4(c), such as by the admitted misrepresentation and withholding of information from Tricoli in violation of OCGA § 16-10-20.
Furthermore, these admitted criminal violations “estop a defendant in any subsequent civil action or proceeding as to all matters proved [e.g., admitted] in the criminal proceeding.” OCGA § 16-14-6(e). Defendants have admitted criminal violations of § 16-14-4(a-c). There is no other reasonable conclusion to draw from the admissions that GPC and USG budget officials were communicating among themselves at least as early as January of 2012 concerning an imminent budget collapse while reporting to Tricoli only that the budget was in fine shape, while at the same time delaying Tricoli’s performance evaluation required by USG policy 2.3 past the deadline for giving notice of non- renewal of the employment contract under USG policy 2.4.2. It may also be taken as an admission that defendants subsequently endeavored to change the policies regarding presidential service in order to effect ex post facto compliance with the policies—after blatantly violating the USG policies in existence at the time. See Defendants’ Response to Request No. 10.
The Georgia RICO Act specifically authorizes injunctive relief to address grievances caused by violations of OCGA § 16-14-4. OCGA § 16- 14-6(a&b). This injunctive relief afforded by OCGA § 16-14-6(a&b) is consistent with the relief authorized by OCGA § 9-11-65, which provides
for interlocutory injunctive relief to restore the status quo and prevent further harm. Bishop v. Patton, 288 Ga. 600, 706 S.E.2d 634, 638 (Ga., 2011). Such interlocutory relief may be awarded in the discretion of the court upon consideration of the following factors: likelihood of success on the merits, the balancing of the equities between the parties, avoidance of irreparable harm, and promotion of the public interest. Id. at 638-39.
Likelihood of success on the merits
Admissions that Defendants, while sending dire emails about a budget disaster starting in January, were reporting to Tricoli that all was well with the GPC budget, establish prima facie violations of OCGA 16- 10-20. Defendants are estopped from defending these admissions of criminal conduct in a civil suit. OCGA 16-14-6(e).
Defendant Huckaby forestalled the performance evaluation required by USG policy 2.3 to let the scenario play out.
Tricoli has presented evidence of a written contract incorporating USG policies. It is undisputed that this contract was breached and these USG policies were first violated by Defendants, then changed after the fact by the USG to cover their tracks.
The allegations of breach of contract and criminal RICO predicate acts will be established at trial by uncontroverted evidence in the form of Defendants’ own documents and admissions.
The equities favor Plaintiff Tricoli
There is no doubt that the harm now suffered by Plaintiff Tricoli outweighs any harm to the Defendants that might flow from granting the injunction. Defendants are admitted wrongdoers, not innocent persons under OCGA 16-14-6(a). The best face the Attorney General can put on it is that they have sovereign immunity for their reprehensible, criminal actions. They diverted all responsibility for their actions to Tricoli, under carefully contrived circumstances. Meanwhile, they maneuvered to deprive Tricoli of all due process concerning his removal, first by tricking him into resigning with a false promise, then illegally purporting not to renew his contract as president.
One of main malefactors, Watts, usurped Tricoli’s position, and the principal confederate, Carruth, retired with a full pension. Carruth was hired by Watts and continued to report to Watts what he would not report to Tricoli, and Watts also kept it from Tricoli, as Carruth spent down GPC reserves put in place at Tricoli’s direction, wasting this resource without the president’s knowledge. Both Watts and Carruth
actively misled Tricoli, one by commission and the other by omission. Watts has overstayed his interim position by over a year already,
according to USG policy limiting interim appointments to a maximum of one year. Replacement of Watts would prejudice both Tricoli and the replacement president.
Moreover, Defendants orchestrated the ouster to work maximum harm on Tricoli, in contrast to other USG presidents who stepped down amid budgetary problems—that perhaps not by coincidence are quite common within the USG—with full pensions or were allowed to take other positions without the hounding and harassment Tricoli has experienced. This termination of, by all accounts, a dynamic and successful GPC president was conducted with extreme prejudice.
Defendants covered up their own wrongdoing through scapegoating Tricoli, changing their own policies retroactively, and through their own self-audit, with cooperation from the Attorney General who abdicated his responsibilities and has failed to pursue admitted criminal acts or account for over $9 million that remains untraced to this day.
Tricoli is being irreparably harmed
As averred in the Amended Verified Complaint, Tricoli’s career was destroyed by the USG’s near diabolical portrayal of him in the press, after sandwiching him between the deceptions of Carruth and Watts in order to sandbag him out of his position as GPC president. Through a series of criminal misrepresentations, he was painted as totally incompetent for believing GPC and USG budget officials. Defendants who knew better claimed Tricoli dipped into the reserves, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Defendants also pilloried Tricoli in the press with false claims, since abandoned, that Tricoli hired friends with criminal records, per WSB-TV. The traps sprung on Tricoli were planned and premeditated to produce the maximum harm.
Then Defendants followed him around the country, showing unparalleled malice, hounding him and prospective employers to make sure he did not get another job. He lost his home in Atlanta in the process. At age 57, he has gone from a successful career in his chosen field to facing trying to start a new career path. Hundreds of interviews later, it is evident that what went down at GPC has barred Tricoli from his chosen profession. Moreover, where Tricoli’s ability to work in his chosen profession is concerned, he has no adequate remedy at law.
While he may be awarded damages or other relief in this action, none of that will restore his ability to work in his chosen field, helping young people who started at the same disadvantage he did. Tricoli Aff., ¶¶ 1-5. The only way to erase that irreparable harm is to reverse Defendants’ illegal actions and place him back in his position as GPC president.
Restoring Tricoli as GPC president serves the public interest
Restoring Tricoli to his position as GPC president from which he was so sleazily removed would also restore confidence–not only in the proper rule of law, where state officials are not free to engage in unfettered criminal activity, but in the proper governance of GPC and the USG to serve the interests of Georgia’s students and support a strong and viable economy for the state, consistent with the legislative intent of the Georgia RICO Act. OCGA 16-14-2.
Tricoli’s accomplishments in building the enrollment and stature of GPC are undisputed, and should be rewarded, not punished. Future star prospects for the USG should not be deterred from coming to Georgia by a RICO-infested climate. Apparently Tricoli’s success created political enemies—who should not be enabled or emboldened to retard the progress of the state or its university system out of their own petty
envies. Perhaps most importantly, Tricoli proved himself to be an energetic and responsible steward of GPC finances. He ordered the reserves that were wasted by Defendants to be created. He never would have knowingly allowed their plan to dissipate them to proceed. If he had known about the spending down of the reserves he would have stopped it. If it had not been hidden from him until it was too late to do anything about it, he would have corrected it
He saved GPC from one financial crisis at the beginning of his tenure. Defendants made sure he did not get a second chance to repeat that performance. Defendants even actually used as examples of Tricoli’s supposed wasteful spending, to misrepresent the facts to justify his illegal ouster and the breach of his contract, wasteful spending initiated by Defendants that Tricoli eliminated. GPC entered a consulting contract with Skybridge Consultants before Tricoli became president. Watts and Carruth knew of this contract and kept it from Tricoli. When he discovered it in the course of his governance of the institution and could not discern any benefit from the mystery consulting contract, he ordered it terminated, according to his stewardship responsibilities as president. In fact, he did the due diligence Defendants accused him of not performing. It was not long after the elimination of this phantom,
pet consulting contract that the plan to eliminate Tricoli leapt into full swing.
Plaintiff intends to prove at trial that elimination of such pet projects and pork barrel spending were the principal motivation for Tricoli’s ouster, and he has requested appointment of a special attorney general to investigate for that purpose. Over $9 million of the alleged budget overspending remains unaccounted for—in short, there is no indication Defendants’ stewardship has served the public interest. In fact, 300 positions were lost and GPC suffered a 7000 drop in enrollment due to the contrived budget crisis—virtually erasing Tricoli’s accomplishments.
The purpose of the Georgia RICO statute is to prevent just such harm to the state, its institutions, and its economy. OCGA 16-14-2. Defendants, on the other hand, did not hesitate to harm the school through their manipulative actions. They showed no compunction about violating the Criminal Code of Georgia. That is the very reason for the RICO statute, to prevent governmental entities from being co-opted by a pattern of criminal activity. OCGA 16-14-2, 16-14-3(6) & 16-14-4.
The Attorney General and the USG need not wring their hands— and wonder what are we going to do if we can’t falsify state college
budget reports and relay more false reports to the AJC in order to oust a president who cut a phantom consulting contract out of the budget. Contrary to what Sam Olens says, the sky won’t fall if state employees cannot commit criminal acts with sovereign impunity. The USG will just have to be staffed with people focused on creating the best educational system in the country—the one that students and taxpayers deserve. The USG and AG are fighting it hard, but what is so wrong with that? All they will have to do is stop committing RICO predicate acts and focus on education.
Wherefore, premises considered, Plaintiff prays for the Court to enter an Order requiring the reinstatement of Tricoli as GPC president pursuant to OCGA § 16-14-6(a); removal of Watts pursuant to OCGA § 16-14- 6(a)(1), barring further retaliation by defendants pursuant to OCGA § 16-14-6(a)(2) before a final determination on the merits pursuant to OCGA § 16-14-6(b).
Respectfully submitted this 19th day of November, 2014. STEPHEN F. HUMPHREYS, P.C.