The May 2014 grand jury also recommended no further county or state resources be expended by the District Attorney’s Office, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office or the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on any criminal investigations related to the project.
The investigation was into the dealings between Cherokee County and Ball Ground Recycling and its owners, Jimmy and David Bobo. In 2007, the county backed $18.1 million in bonds to relocate the recycling business off county-owned property on Blaylock Road near Holly Springs to a site off Highway 5 near Ball Ground.
Jimmy Bobo later declared bankruptcy, leaving the county to foot the bill of $100,000 per month in debt service payments on the loan.
The county continues to own the shuttered recycling plant.
The grand jury recommended all county resources “be dedicated to aggressively seeking a buyer for the Ball Ground Recycling facility and mitigating the financial losses that this project has needlessly cost the taxpayers of Cherokee County.”
The grand jury reported it listened to multiple days of testimony from Sheriff’s Office Capt. Bert Love and GBI Special Agent in Charge Kim Williams, and reviewed the forensic audit of the deal before releasing its findings.
Grand jurors praised Love and Williams for “their very thorough investigation into all potential criminal activity related to the project.”
In the latest round of presentments, the grand jury noted the office of District Attorney Shannon Wallace had “committed hundreds of hours to the investigation of this matter of the past 26 months.”
On April 28, Wallace’s office released the forensic audit, which cost the county $500,000, on the Ball Ground Recycling project to the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners, who financed the 7,345-page review into the situation at the request of earlier grand juries. Wallace said at the time of its release the audit showed no illegal activity on the part of the Commission.
Since the plant stopped operations in 2012, the county has received two letters of interest in the facility. The Resource Recovery Development Authority recommended the commissioners first to accept the $4.2 million offer from Sugar hill-based Cowart Mulch Products in February, but later rejected the revised 25-year lease purchase.
The RRDA and Board of Commissioners are now considering a $7 million offer from Peach State Organics.
In May, Cowart filed suit in Superior Court against the county for fraud and breach of contract when it was declined the lease-purchase offer.
The grand jury thanked the prior jurors and citizens who encouraged the Ball Ground Recycling investigation and recommended residents remain diligent.
“This grand jury would encourage all citizens to attend the Board of Commissioners meetings or to watch these meetings on line since these meetings are recorded … and to be actively engaged in the actions of our county government.”