Attorney Buddy Parker, who represents the Bobos, released the statement from his clients in response to the Cherokee County May 2014 grand jury recommendations and District Attorney Shannon Wallace’s decision to drop the case.
The statement said the Bobos feel a heavy burden has been lifted.
“Jimmy and David Bobo welcome this conclusion and find that it has lifted a heavy burden of suspicion, speculation and belief of criminality promoted by some members of our community,” the statement said. “Every person in the United States is presumed innocent, as a matter of law, unless and until proven to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.”
The statement said the Bobos agree with the grand jury’s recommendation no county or state resources should be expended to further any criminal investigation or attempted criminal prosecution.
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.
“With regards to the unfortunate events surrounding the failure of the Ball Ground Recycling plant, the grand jury found there was no prosecutable criminal case. This follows a similar decision last week when the United States Attorney’s Office informed the Bobos both it and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were closing their investigation without further action. The criminal investigation against the Bobos is therefore now concluded,” the statement said.
Now that the grand jury has closed the case, Parker said the jurors’ “sound advice” should be extended to the Cherokee County’s civil case against the Bobos. The civil suit filed by Cherokee County against Jimmy and David Bobo and their companies is still pending in Cherokee County Superior Court, according to court records.
“Countless hours of investigation and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been dedicated to this matter. Enough resources have been spent by all concerned. The Bobos respectfully submit that this sound advice from the grand jury be extended to Cherokee County’s civil case against the Bobos,” the statement said. “It is time to move forward and utilize our limited tax dollars in a manner beneficial to the citizens of Cherokee County. Instead, as suggested by the grand jury, ‘all county resources [should] 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.’”
Since the plant ceased 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 working on a $7 million offer from Peach State Organics.
The release from the Bobos also said they hope that the Board of Commissioners will heed the grand jury’s investigation and recommendation by directing County Attorney Angie Davis to dismiss the civil case, “recognizing that the losses the county and Bobos suffered from the Ball Ground Recycling Project were caused by the unforeseen great recession of 2008-10, not by fraud. Jimmy and David Bobo did not steal anything from Cherokee County.”
Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens said Thursday the civil suit was put on hold during the investigation and the commission would now have to have an extensive discussion on how it will move forward with the suit.
“The process will unfold when the commission has the opportunity to meet and have an extensive discussion with legal counsel,” Ahrens said.
The statement from the Bobos also mentioned the May 2014 grand jury’s recommendation to hire a full-time county attorney. The Bobos claim in the statement that County Attorney Angie Davis has a conflict of interest in providing advice to the BoC.
“Were this recommendation to be adopted by the commission, the current county attorney would be replaced. The Bobos believe that the county attorney has a conflict of interest in providing advice to the commission. Apart from the fact that the county attorney was paid $140,000 for her legal services in conjunction with the bond issuance, one need only refer to the forensic audit performed by McClendon and Associates to find facts about which the county attorney may be criticized.”
Davis said Thursday that she and her firm, Jarrard and Davis, do not have a conflict in the case.
“My firm and I do not have a conflict of any kind, and there are no findings in the forensic audit that are critical of our office. As a reminder, the bonds issued as part of this transaction were validated as legal by a court of law.” Davis said. “The statements by my opposing counsel are nothing more than an effort to detract from the important claims that remain against his clients in the ongoing civil litigation.”
“While the grand jury made a recommendation without findings that the County Attorney be a county employee, the grand jury may have overlooked Cherokee County’s governing law that has specifically authorized the Board of Commissioners’ appointment of retained legal counsel,” she continued.
Cherokee County paid $500,000 for a forensic audit to be conducted by McClendon and Associates, which investigated the county’s 2006 deal to guarantee $18.1 million in debt to relocate Bobo’s business from Blalock Road and the process surrounding the situation.
“Cherokee County will continue to expend substantial county resources by way of paying legal fees to the county attorney should it continue to prosecute its civil case against the Bobos. Enough is enough,” the statement from the Bobos said.