Troubling Findings in Deposition of Regent Doreen Stiles Poitevint in Whistleblower Suit

In our continuing CIG Project (Corruption in Georgia) we have just been sent a transcript of a deposition by Regent Doreen Stiles Poitevint from February 8, 2010 that has remained sealed by order of Sam Olens until now. Regent Poitevint is seated at the far right in the photograph.

Contrary to what the Attorney General’s Office will likely try and make the public believe, this sealed deposition is now released for the very first time following some legal maneuvering by Denise Caldon when she submitted it as an Exhibit in her Fourth Motion to lift the Protective Order – to which Sam Olens opposed! Given how embarrassing this will be for Nathan Deal, Sam Olens, and the entire BOR, I understand why Sam Olens fought to keep this sealed. The revelations in this deposition shows the entire Board of Regents system is inherently flawed and in desperate and urgent need of reform.       

Attorney General Sam Olens is on public record stating to both the General Assembly and the public his mandate for “government transparency,” while he is on legal record exempting the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (BOR of USG) from transparency and not investigating RICO (racketeering), fraud, ethical and fiscal malfeasance confirmed in an increasing number of RICO (racketeering) lawsuits.

This deposition confirms all of the suspicions in my previous article: Don’t Bother Appealing to Georgia Board of Regents.  Even though the Board of Regents control many billions of our education budget, they appear to be little more than a group of socialites that gather to drink mint juleps. They are a collection of  wealthy friends of Nathan Deal or Sonny Perdue with very few qualifications to be responsible for controlling billions. Regent Poitevint, the former Vice Chair of the BOR Organization and Law Committee, in fact, didn’t even realize she held that position. Read what the UGA newspaper Red & Black  had to say about Nathan Deal’s friend who was reappointed to the BOR. Leebern Jr. should not still be a University System regent

With this degree of cronyism that allows one of the most powerful entities in the state of Georgia to perform more like a gathering of wealthy and clueless socialites, is it any wonder why Georgia continues to languish near the bottom in education? Wouldn’t it make far more sense to have a BOR based on their intelligence, knowledge, skills, pedagogical background, and a desire to actually hear appeals from fired employees and students? Wouldn’t it make more sense to have a Board that actually represents Georgia both geographically and also include more women and minorities? Why isn’t there at least one student representative on the Board even in a non-voting capacity? Are there disproportionate numbers represented on the BOR from  UGA? Many other states place limits requiring that no more than two  members can be graduates from any one school. Are all parts of the state represented? How many are connected to Hall County?

Georgia desperately needs to reform the BOR and allow more transparency and accountability. The Board of Regents need to actually start taking their job seriously and cases like the one in this deposition needs to be actually heard and debated. If they don’t have the time, then a committee that includes someone other than just a lawyer worried about meritorious lawsuits needs to consider these appeals. With a 97% rejection rate of appeals, it is clear that the deck is stacked against whistleblowers. The fact that the state has near immunity also suggests they are acting with downright impunity.

The amount of money you donated to a Governor in a campaign should not have anything to do with your selection on this or any other Board in Georgia. It is time to change how all Board members for all agencies are selected. We need more professionals on the BOR and certainly some people from the middle class.  It appears the entire BOR simply defers to the legal expertise of a few attorneys and not on the merits of any appeal – but simply on whether the Board can be sued successfully or not. It doesn’t matter that you were falsely fired because you reported an incompetent or corrupt boss, even with proof, you are history.

In Caldon v BOR, Attorney General Sam Olens approved the filing of four “Responses in Oppositions” in Fulton County Superior Court (7 Sept. 2012; 10 May 2012; 2 Feb. 2012; 11 August 2011) to four Motions filed by E. Denise Caldon requesting Judge Doris Downs to lift the Protective Order(s) that seal evidence of RICO (racketeering), fraud, ethical and fiscal malfeasance by Attorney General Olens’s defendants – the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. Attorney General Olens’ filing of four “Responses in Opposition” is unquestionable proof of both non-compliance to government transparency and a serious “Conflict of Interest” by an elected official – which should be addressed by the Georgia State Bar.

This case has received widespread coverage by Atlanta media. This report by Jeff Chirico gives a brief overview of the case.

Here is a letter from Denise Caldon in her own words explaining why this case is so important.

I attended an educational forum a few years ago and when I mentioned my Whistleblower case regarding the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, the Forum Host responded with, “You mean ‘The Untouchables’ – Georgia’s very own “Southern Mafia.”

My name is E. Denise Caldon Sorkness. During my late husband’s illness from exposure to Agent Orange, and just prior to his death, I left my position in the Office of the Chancellor at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and relocated back to Macon, my hometown, with our three young children.

I began my position as the Administrative Assistant to the college president at Middle Georgia State College (formerly Macon State) in October 1993 where I served for fifteen years. During the last three years, I was asked to cross ethical, fiscal and, what many believe, criminal lines by former President David A. Bell, Vice President Levy Youmans, et al.

One of the requests was the falsifying of official Leave Reports for the President, who was under psychiatric care and had serious mental health issues – confirmed in Depositions kept sealed still today by Attorney General Sam Olens.

On 24 September 2008, I finally submitted in writing my objections to falsifying documents. I was terminated just nine days later – after fifteen years of service.

I, like hundreds of USG faculty, staff and students, submitted the BOR “Application for Review” (appeal) to which over thirty Georgia public college campus employees and students are made to believe will be read by the BOR Organization and Law Committee for review at the monthly BOR meeting.
They do not.

Vice Chair Doreen Stiles Poitevint confirmed repeatedly in her Deposition – taken 8 February 2010 – that Applications for Reviews (appeals) submitted to the BOR of USG by hundreds of faculty, staff and students from over thirty public colleges statewide are, in fact: *NOT READ by the members of the BOR Organization and Law Committee as the USG faculty, staff and students are fraudulently made to believe by the BOR; *NOT “presented to the Board of Regents” and *NOT “investigated, reviewed and given careful consideration” The BOR’s form letter – on official BOR letterhead, signed by J. Burns Newsome, BOR Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs, and mailed to hundreds of USG faculty, staff and students for years – knowingly mislead and misrepresent the truth and are violations of: O.C.G.A. 16-10-20: False statements and writings, concealment of facts, and fraudulent documents in matters within jurisdiction of state or political subdivisions; State Bar Rule 4.1 Truthfulness in Statements to Others.

18 U.S.C. §§ 1341, 1343: The extensive use of RICO in the civil context is almost solely attributable to the inclusion of mail and wire fraud as predicate acts. As a result, almost any business that allegedly engages in common law fraud can theoretically be sued under the RICO Act. Federal Mail Fraud – a federal offense governed by section 1341 of title 18 of the U.S. Code

Respectfully,

E. Denise Caldon Sorkness

 

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