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Friday, June 21, 2024

Whistleblower: Fulton DA’s Office Misspent Federal Grant on ‘Computers, Travel and Swag’

'I continued to be persistent and to let ... him and everybody else know that we could not spend the grant in that manner. And he persisted to say that that was what we were going to do with the grant...'

() A whistleblower who worked in the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office says she was fired after raising concerns about the misuse of federal grant funds as part of a probe by the Georgia legislature.

Amanda Timpson worked with the office from 2018 until 2022 and served as the director of gang prevention and intervention under previous District Attorney Paul Howard.

Timpson told the state’s Senate Special Committee on Investigations she faced retaliation under District Attorney Fani Willis after raising concerns about how the office planned to spend a federal grant.

At issue is a more than $488,000 Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention grant the office received to assist its gang-prevention initiatives before Willis was elected in November 2020. In March 2021, the office’s new programs officer said he wanted to use the grant money for “computers, travel and swag,” Timpson told lawmakers.

“I continued to be persistent and to let … him and everybody else know that we could not spend the grant in that manner,” she said. “And he persisted to say that that was what we were going to do with the grant.”

Simply warning about the illegal misappropriation of funds brought backlash against her personally, Timpson said.

“…And I was just persistent in letting him know that that was not what we could do, and I noticed, as I persisted to let him know, that my treatment drastically started to change,” she alleged. “I just knew I had to stand my ground. Because I was … fearful of the misuse of funds.”

Timpson, who has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the district attorney’s office, told lawmakers that after Willis was elected, the incoming prosecutor emailed current employees with a new organizational chart. Current employees were guaranteed an interview but not necessarily a job.

However, the Gang Prevention Unit had been abolished. Timpson interviewed for a job in December 2020 in front of a panel that included Nathan Wade and was hired as director of juvenile diversion.

Willis subsequently hired Wade as a special prosecutor on a case involving former President Donald Trump. Wade stepped down following a judge’s ruling, and Trump appealed a decision allowing Willis to stay on the case.

Timpson said Willis demoted her in July 2021 and fired her in January 2022 after Timpson spoke with the director of the Fulton County Office of Diversity and Civil Rights Compliance. Seven armed investigators escorted Timpson from the building, she said.

Jeff DiSantis, a spokesman for Willis’s office, did not respond to a request for comment on the claims.

Whether Willis will testify before the committee, created with the passage of Senate Resolution 465 and chaired by Sen. Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, remains to be seen.

In public remarks, the prosecutor has alleged the committee is racially motivated, but Republicans seem determined to make her testify.

“If subpoenaed by the Committee, she will be required to appear or she will be in violation of Georgia law,” Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, a Republican, said in a statement earlier this month. “This is what treating everybody evenly looks like, even if DA Willis doesn’t like being held accountable.”

Separately, a judge has barred Willis from investigating Jones, though a special prosecutor has been appointed. The Special Committee on Investigations is expected to meet next at the end of June.

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