Downtown Manager Don Buie dismissed - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Downtown Manager Don Buie dismissed

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Buie's office is vacated Buie's office is vacated
Don Buie Don Buie

By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -  Don Buie was given the opportunity to resign, but refused, and was fired.

A GBI investigation began when lawyer Phil Cannon gave city manager Al Lott a copy of an affidavit from a woman who worked for Buie as a vendor, and also had a romantic relationship with him.

She said Buie got a kick-back from one of her checks and sent it to his estranged wife. She later changed the story, but the GBI and the city launched investigations which found Buie also wrote checks with taxpayer money to his wife, and gave an ADICA board member a $50,000 grant that was never reviewed or approved by the board.

As soon as Don Buie returned from vacation, he was gone again, but this time for good.

"He no longer works for the city," said City Manager Alfred Lott.

Lott met with Buie this morning and asked him point blank about some $3,100 paid by ADICA to Shanon Lee. "I asked him 'Who is Shanon Lee?' He informed me that was his wife."

And that's where the conversation came to a halt. After verifying what he had suspected since discovering those checks, Lott asked Buie to resign, but he refused.

"He turned in all of his keys and equipment and elected not to resign. It is my intent to terminate him effective, 10 o'clock this morning."

It's not just the checks to Shanon Lee that created a problem for Buie. There are close to $10,000 worth of reimbursements that were made from Buie's downtown Manager's account that were never actually paid by ADICA, or where different amounts were paid.

In the full audit of ADICA conducted by the city's finance department in addition to the payments made to Nicole Brown and to Shanon Lee, Don Buie's wife, there are also reimbursements that were made to Buie himself with little to no documentation at all.

In all, those undocumented or little documented expenses to various people total almost $30,000.

How does it make Lott feel to know one of the senior leaders of this city stole? "Well, it certainly is a disappointment and you don't expect that from anybody. You have to trust people to do their job. Those circumstances no longer exist for Mr. Buie and our relationship and that's why I asked him to resign."

Since he's no longer the downtown Manager, Buie is also ousted as ADICA's CEO. "I think it's right that Don has been fired. It's unfortunate the wake that he's leaving in Albany," said ADICA Board Member Phil Cannon.

A black cloud over revitalization efforts in downtown. But he does think it could end up being a positive for the organization.

"It's an opportunity for ADICA to reorganize and it's an opportunity for us to begin anew with the redevelopment of Downtown Albany."

But the ADICA board itself is also coming under scrutiny, one board member, LaJuana Woods, received a $50,000 facade grant for a restaurant that is outside the bounds as outlined in the grant application.

I spoke with Ms. Woods this afternoon, she said she spoke with Buie about the grant and did not believe there was a conflict of interest in applying for it, and she was told her restaurant did qualify for the grant.

The financial audit and the criminal investigation being conducted by the GBI will be turned over to the district attorney for him to determine if charges should be filed against Buie.


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