Below is a letter written to Governor Deal in regards to ongoing criminal activity within the University System of Georgia. It asks the Governor to request the Attorney General’s office to investigate multiple cases of criminal activity. This is part of our CIG Project Series of Articles to shed light on corruption in Georgia.
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Dear Governor Deal,
l am respectfully writing to you call your attention to a pattern of ongoing criminal
activity within the University System of Georgia [USG] and Board of Regents, and to
request you to direct the Attorney General to investigate these matters—or, where
the Attorney General is unable to comply because of irrevocable conﬂicts of interest,
to appoint a Special Attorney General to investigate and, where appropriate,
prosecute the State government officials involved, pursuant to your authority under
OCGA § 45-15-18.
The State is now facing five different civil lawsuits based on related violations of the
Georgia RICO Act and the Georgia Whistleblower Ac”t—in retaliation for efforts to
oppose or expose public corruption. The Georgia RICO Act cases involve direct
criminal wrongdoing by State agencies and officials and call into question the use of
millions of dollars in State agency funds. The Whistleblower cases are for retaliation
against public employees for reporting similar criminal fraud, waste, and abuse in
The Attorney General, while defending these actions, has stated publicly that he has
not investigated any of the underlying allegations of criminal activity and misuse of
State funds. That is especially troubling since the allegations are extensively
d0curnented—largely through public records already in the Attorney General’s
possession and admittedly not reviewed or considered by the Attorney General. In
addition, members of the Attorney General’s own staff are alleged to have actively
participated in or overlooked some of the illegal activities, resulting in as much as $9
million in State agency funds unaccounted for in a single instance.
Obviously, there is an irreconcilable conﬂict between the Attorney General’s
responsibility to defend State agencies and officials in civil litigation and his duty .
under the State Constitution to investigate and prosecute criminal activity, including
within the State government. That conﬂict has proven especially inimical to the
interests of justice, and the integrity of the State agencies involved, where the Office
of the Attorney General’s own involvement in evidence tampering, improper
inﬂuencing of witnesses, and subornation of perjury has been documented in the
sworn testimony of State employees and authenticated State records.
Here is a brief summary of the extensively—documented allegations of criminal
activity that the Board of Regents and Attorney General both admit they have never
Tricoli v. Watts. In 2012, the USG announced a $16 million budget deficit at GPC, and
forced President Anthony Tricoli out of office, a week after official budget reports
showed the school operating at a $4 million surplus. No independent investigation
‘ was ever performed, though $9 million in GPC spending remains unaccounted for
even after a self-audit by the USG. The USG’s own self-audit found that budget
officials at Georgia Perimeter College [GPC) kept two sets of books for the college
budget–and official GPC budget reports to then-President Tricoli were knowingly
falsified. The USG and Attorney General both purport to defend the ouster of Tricoli
by maintaining that he could have found the actual numbers from other sources, but
it is clear under OCGA § 16-10-20 that a criminal act was committed at the instant ‘
the knowingly false reports were submitted to the president as part of the official
budget process, irrespective of whether he may or may not have been able to put on
a green eyeshade and ascertain the actual budget ﬁgures from another source. The
admitted falsiﬁcation of the budget reports resulted not only in $9 million that
remains unaccounted for, but in severe harm to the school itself, its students and
faculty. Over 300 GPC employees were let go and enrollment–that rose from 13,000
to 27,000 students under Tricoli’s leadership–fell back below 20,000 in the
aftermath of the admitted budget manipulation that severely damaged GPC.
it is important to emphasize that, though the alleged malfeasance has resulted in
litigation against the State by the individual plaintiffs against whom these criminal
acts were directed, the criminal acts have harmed the State itself, its institutions of
higher education, their faculty and students, and by extension every citizen of
Georgia who depends on our educational institutions to build a sound and vibrant
economy. That is why the knowing falsiﬁcation of state agency reports, evidence
tampering, and perjury are not merely breaches of a duty to the individual
plaintiffs—they are crimes, according to statutes enacted by the General Assembly,
for the very reason that the harm is not limited to the individuals at whom these
acts were directed. The harm is shared by the public who bears the resulting
burdens—and that is why these crimes are incorporated as predicate acts in the
Georgia RICO statute.
Caidon v Board of Regents. Denise Caldon served for ﬁfteen years with an exemplary
record of service as the executive assistant to the president of Macon State College.
She was summarily fired, allegedly for insubordination, after refusing to continue
falsifying the personal leave reports on which former President David Bell’s State
pension is based. Caldon’s office computer was removed and Attorney General Sam
Olens has fought to keep the criminally falsified State agency reports under seal in
her whistleblower action.
Brandenburg v. Board of Regents. An X-ray technician with over sixteen years of
unblemished service at Georgia Medical College was fired, for allegedly making a
comment about a patient’s foot odor–after reporting a conﬂict of interest by Regent
Donald Leebern, whose company was selling bottled water to the college in
violation of State law and Regents’ policy. The patient in question emphatically
denies the alleged grounds of the State for terminating Brandenburg’ s employment.
Leehern was found, in fact, to have committed a State ethics violation. However,
Brandenburg has never received so much as a due process review of his
transparently pretextual termination.
Benedek v. Adams. In an attempt to revoke the tenure of a vocal critic of then-UGA
President Michael Adams, knowingly false charges were brought against Professor
Dezso Benedek by the Attorney General. It was proven and documented in a three-
day evidentiary hearing through sworn testimony and authenticated State records
that Adams and the Attorney General knew in advance that the conﬂict of interest
charges against Benedek were false, that knowingly false evidence was
manufactured to support the knowingly false charges, and that exculpatory UGA
documents were concealed and withheld, and their existence even falsely denied
under oath—with the proof of these misdeeds resulting in dismissal of all conﬂict of
interest charges against Professor Benedek.
Benedek was cleared despite the fact that the Attorney General concealed and
withheld documents in the Attorney Genei-al’s possession that conclusively
contradicted the charges——including written correspondence showing the UGA
Office of Legal Affairs overseeing an extensive campaign to impersonate UGA
students and illegally send out their private information to third parties, under false
pretenses, while intentionally and actively concealing this activity from the UGA
students, in order to manufacture false evidence. In the case of a tenure revocation
charge that Benedek terminated a UGA program at Jilin University in China, the
Attorney General deliberately and knowingly withheld a UGA memo documenting in
writing that one of Benedek’s accusers had actually ordered the Iilin program
terminated over Benedek’s efforts to maintain it.
Unlike the Attorney General’s contention in response to being fined $10,000 for
similarly improperly withholding relevant documents in the Ethics Commission
case—the contention that the memo documenting pressure to dismiss an ethics
complaint against your gubernatorial campaign was not responsive to any of the
plaintiffs discovery requests~~there is no question that this withheld ]ilin memo was
responsive to the broad discovery agreement in place to turn over all documents
relevant to the charges.
The written documentation, straight from the hearing record, of evidence
tampering, identity theft, mail and wire fraud, computer invasion of privacy, false
identiﬁcation documents, improper inﬂuencing of witnesses, perjury, and
subornation of perjury was presented to and summarily ignored, without
explanation, by the Board of Regents. Both the Regents and the Attorney General
admit they have never investigated any of the criminal allegations documented
through sworn testimony and authenticated State records at the evidentiary hearing
conducted by the Attorney General’s office itself.
Benedek v. Olens. When the courts denied Benedek’s amendment to his complaint to
add the RICO claims for the above-named criminal offenses in Benedek v. Adams-
contrary to Georgia law that gives the courts no discretion to deny such an
amendment prior to entry of a pre-trial order—Benedek filed his RICO claims in a
separate action. Benedek added Attorney General Sam Olens as a party to the
second suit in response to Olens’ failure to address the involvement of his own office
in the alleged evidence tampering, improper inﬂuencing of witnesses, and
subornation of perjury. Moreover, the Attorney General is claiming immunity,
under law applicable only to a tort action for defamation, for these criminal
violations, on behalf of himself and all other State defendants. Surely you will agree
it is self-evident that the consequences of broadly immunizing state agencies and
officials for criminal conduct in office are not acceptable on any level.
As previously stated, there is extensive documentation of the ongoing pattern of
alleged criminal activity, as well as attempts to conceal it. This documentation,
moreover, consists largely of official documents of the Board of Regents itself, as
well as sworn testimony in the related proceedings. We would be happy to share
with your office all the evidence—which also has been and remains available to the
Board of Regents and the Attorney General. In some instances, both agencies have
admitted in official public statements that they have not investigated this evidence
that is in their possession already.
Aside from the defense of these actions in court, the Attorney General has admitted
in public statements that his office has not investigated any of the criminal
allegations or documentary evidence available to him. The Attorney General has
stated that he has not investigated any of these cases because they contain “no
credible allegations.” In spite of the criminal violations that are alleged in detail with
great speciﬁcity, and the documentary evidence readily available to support the
allegations of criminal conduct, the Attorney General has dismissed the allegations
as “outlandish conspiracy theories,” admittedly without investigating either the
allegations or their documentation in official State agency records, such as the USG’s
self audit with respect to Georgia Perimeter College or the written correspondence
documenting the illegal manufacture of evidence in the Benedek case.
Of course it is especially problematic for the Attorney General to rely on such self-
serving statements, admittedly without investigation, when the allegations address
wrongdoing in the Attorney General’s office itself, as well as by the Attorney
GeneraI’s USG clients. The Attorney General’s defense of these actions involving
allegations of criminal activity, admittedly without investigating evidence of the
underlying crimes, clearly violates the Attorney General’s ethical obligations under
Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2[d], 1.6[b](1][i], 1.7[a&c], 1.16[a}, 3.1,
3.3, 3.4[a&b], & 4-.1.
It has also been documented through sworn testimony of State agency ofﬁcials [not
merely the Plaintiffs’ contentions) that Board of Regents and Attorney General have
1 actually engaged in active concealment and withholding of evidence of criminal
wrongcloing—and, of course, that concealment and withholding is itself also a
potential criminal violation under OCGA §§ 16-10-20, 16-10-94 8t 16-14-3[A).
For these reasons, including the Attorney General‘s admitted refusal to investigate
these criminal matters involving his own ofﬁce, we urge you to go ahead and
appoint a Special Attorney General to investigate these well-documented allegations
‘ of a pattern of criminal activity within the USG and Board of Regents, pursuant to
your authority under OCGA § 45-15-18.
We think you will agree that these institutions must retain a single-minded focus on
public service directed to the education of Georgia’s young people and not be
diverted by personal agendas or drawn into a mire of self-serving conduct that in
any way violates the Criminal Code of Georgia.
Please let us know if you have any questions or if we can provide additional
information or documentation, including the documentation that is already
available to the USG and Attorney General. Thank you for your immediate attention
to this request that is so critical to the well-being and future of our State.