Downtown indictments may clear 'stench' - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Downtown indictments may clear 'stench'

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Don Buie Don Buie
Tim Washington (Source: Dougherty Co. Jail) Tim Washington (Source: Dougherty Co. Jail)
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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A downtown Albany store owner was arrested a Thursday on theft charges, and he'll soon be followed by three others, including former downtown manager Don Buie.

Tim Washington, Don Buie and his wife Shanon, and Buie's former girlfriend Nicole Brown are named in a 17 count indictment that outlines the theft of thousands of taxpayers' dollars.

After a five month investigation, a grand jury indicted Buie and the others on a dozen and a half charges that range from theft by taking to conspiracy to defraud.

The city manager's office says they hope these charges will remove the stench left by these crimes.

Dollar Square owner Tim Washington surrendered at the Sheriff's office two and a half hours ago. Our exclusive video shows Washington being booked on theft and conspiracy to defraud charges. He was then released on $20,000 bond.  Washington is the first of the indicted four to surrender.

He, Don Buie and his wife, Shanon and Buie's former girlfriend, Nicole Brown, are all named in a 17 count indictment that outlines theft of taxpayer money.

Buie is accused of writing at least eight ADICA checks to his wife, Shanon Buie, for more than two thousand dollars total.

And he's charged with keeping part of the city money from a check he wrote to a woman he dated, Nicole Brown.

Prosecutors say they are not sure yet how much money Buie may mismanaged or stole.

"A challenge in this particular case is the lack of record keeping," Chief Assistant District Attorney Christopher Cohilas said. "That was present, so it has been a challenge for the investigation."

Prosecutors say this case is a top priority because government officials and tax money are involved.

"I hope that we can instill confidence in the public that their government. Their government services are clean, fair, and above board," said D. A. Greg Edwards.

ADICA Board Member LaJuana Woods, who was given a $50,000 façade grant from Buie, is also a target of this investigation.

Because she's a public official, she will be given the opportunity to appear before a grand jury.

"We will be moving to provide her with notice and the opportunity to come forward to the Grand Jury to review what we believe are acts associated with this particular situation," Edwards said.

City Manager Al Lott was out of town today, but Assistant City Manager Wes Smith said the charges are a relief.

"I'm kind of glad to see the wheels of justice turning the way they are supposed to," Smith said.

Assistant City Manager James Taylor, who took over as Interim ADICA Director, said it's important for the future of downtown Albany that Buie and the others face criminal charges, removing the stench of possible corruption so that investors will return.

"It's lingered as a little hanging cloud over a lot of things," Taylor said.

Buie contacted the GBI today to say he's in Baltimore, but will surrender this weekend. Prosecutors say they will fight to keep Don Buie held without bond when he is arrested.

Nicole Brown has indicated she will also surrender. No word yet on Shanon Buie's whereabouts.

Because he was a public official and charged with stealing tax money, Buie could face up to 15 years in prison for each of the 10 theft charges in the indictment.

The charges include:

  • Making false statements (2 counts)
  • Conspiracy to defraud a political subdivision (3 counts)
  • Theft of services (2 counts)
  • Theft by taking (7 counts)
  • Theft by recevieing stolen property (3 counts)

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