Sumter Co. leaders react to controversial death, investigation o - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Sumter Co. leaders react to controversial death, investigation of former D.A.

Lewis Lamb (Source: WALB) Lewis Lamb (Source: WALB)
Former  D. A. Plez Hardin (Source: WALB) Former D. A. Plez Hardin (Source: WALB)
Randy Howard, Commission Chairman (Source: WALB) Randy Howard, Commission Chairman (Source: WALB)
AMERICUS, GA (WALB) -

Lewis Lamb, the acting district attorney for the Southwestern Judicial Circuit, issued a statement Tuesday afternoon about the status of that office and an investigation.

Former D.A. Plez Hardin took his life Sunday, April 8, in Sumter County.

Lamb confirmed that Hardin was the subject of an investigation by the federal government.

The Southwestern Judicial Circuit will be audited and Lamb pledged his cooperation and that some money can't be accounted for.

Lamb said the office will be transparent and accountable, as long as he has any control over the process.

Below is Lamb's statement:

I, Lewis Lamb, the Acting District Attorney for the Southwestern Judicial Circuit, have confirmed that deceased District Attorney Plez Hardin was the subject of a federal investigation related to financial and tax improprieties. I became aware of that investigation shortly before Mr. Hardin’s death. 

Following his death on April 9th, I met with federal authorities concerning the matter.  My immediate concern was whether anyone else may have been complicit in the wrongdoing. My understanding is that Mr. Hardin, not the District Attorney’s Office, was the subject of the investigation. No one else in this office had administrative access or control over the D.A.’s accounts at that time.

As a result of this investigation, and based on my assumption of authority pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 15-18-16, I have asked all six counties of the Southwestern Judicial Circuit to participate in an audit of the finances of the District Attorney’s Office. I want the process to be open and to have the participation of every county this office serves. An independent audit will help us learn whether anyone else may have been involved at any time, as well as the full extent of the losses.

A brief examination of the accounts of the District Attorney’s Office has revealed that there are, in fact, missing funds. The total losses are not known at this time.  I have consulted with the GBI concerning the matter.  Once the audit is completed, the results will be turned over to the GBI and an independent prosecutor to proceed with further investigation if needed.

No one currently in the District Attorney’s Office had any administrative control or access to the office finances. The most important thing to me right now is to preserve the integrity and credibility of the District Attorney’s Office.  This office will be transparent and accountable, so long as I have any control over the process. We have implemented meaningful fiscal controls over the District Attorney’s funds, and we will provide financial information and reconciled books to every county in the Circuit on a regular basis.

Commission Chairman Randy Howard said he is still in shock from the news. 

"It's such a shock. Everybody knew Plez, he got along with people and we always thought a lot of him and his family and when something like that happens, you're not sure what to do," said Howard.

Howard said he is standing behind Lamb.

"He's keeping us informed and asking for help and he's done a good job and we appreciate it and we fully support him 110 percent," said Howard.

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