10:18 p.m.: CORRECTION: CLARIFIES that Franklin repaid the county for some travel funds; ADDS Brandon Turner does not report directly to Jeff Turner

Katrina Holloway, former Clayton County assistant to Chairman Jeff Turner, has been granted bond after making her first appearance via Zoom at 10 a.m. Tuesday, January 31. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation charged Holloway with one count each of false statements and making false reports.

According to online court records, Holloway was granted $5,000 bond on the false statements charge and $3,000 on the false report of crime charge. Her next court date, which also will be via Zoom, according to court records, is set for February 20 at 8:30 a.m. Online jail records show she had bonded out as of 3:49 p.m. Tuesday. She is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Holloway, along with District 3 Commissioner Felicia Franklin and District 1 Commissioner Alieka Anderson, gave interviews to an online publication called “The Atlanta Press,” which has a Twitter feed that is less than a week old and features feed content from the Clayton News, CNN, and Axios, as well as various press releases, but relatively little original reporting. The website does not disclose who its owner, publisher, or editor is on its “About” page, nor does it show a masthead, which is a list of all its editorial staff.

Franklin claims GBI, auditors not doing their jobs

In a lengthy interview with reporter and strategic communications business owner Crystal Bui, Franklin mentioned in passing her concerns about “some possible misuse of county funds,” specifically regarding college degrees.

Franklin did not mention that she, along with Anderson, District 2 Commissioner Gail Hambrick, and Clayton County itself, are defendants in a federal suit brought against them by former Chief Financial Officer Ramona Bivins. In her suit, Bivins alleges the three retaliated against her for her husband’s political activity on behalf of District 4 Commissioner DeMont Davis—and against the candidate that Franklin, Anderson, and former Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill were backing in District 4. She also alleges that, while she was terminated and an investigation ordered into why the county was paying for her doctoral studies, no similar action was taken against Chief Operating Officer Detrick Stanford. Bivins also alleges in her suit that, when Stanford offered to repay his tuition, Anderson told him he didn’t have to because “we are only going after Ramona.”

Franklin also implied that an audit, which is due for final release in mid-February, was being withheld: “Unfortunately, up until today’s date, that audit information has not been returned to the Board of Commissioners, which also is extremely suspicious.” At the January 10 BOC work session, David Roberts, a representative of Mauldin and Jenkins gave a presentation, updating the board and the public on the progress of its audit and some preliminary findings.

Among those findings were inconsistencies in how travel funds were used. Franklin has had to pay back some of the county funds that she had gotten for travel.

Roberts said at the January 10 meeting that “inconsistencies” included:

  • hotel receipts vs. confirmations
  • conference agendas
  • certified statements for missing receipts
  • documentation of return of funds for overpayments
  • prior approval for hotels over the General Services Administration (GSA) rate
  • deluxe hotel rooms, comfort-plus airplane seats, “etc.”
  • privately-owned vehicles, mileage within ten miles of home or office

Franklin has not responded to numerous e-mailed requests for comment from The Clayton Crescent since last summer:

  • June 29, 2022: regarding an incident involving Timothy Vondell Jefferson
  • July 21, 2022: regarding questions about:
    • Franklin’s use of a personal credit card to book travel
    • the reimbursement she had sought from Bivins
    • why she had not followed Bivins’ policy that all commissioners book travel through a single employee point of contact
    • whether her constituent aide had traveled to one or more conferences as a “nanny” for Franklin’s minor children
    • whether she had used her personal credit cards to accumulate points
    • why she had forwarded unsubstantiated allegations about county staffers’ alleged criminal records
    • what had prompted the security detail for her, Anderson, and Hambrick
    • whether an alleged political “deal” had been struck between Hill and former county policy and planning director/consultant/Housing Authority of Clayton County Director Wade Starr
    • whether any potential conflict of interest with Hill would require her recusal from voting on CCSO budgets
    • whether the GBI had questioned her or other county officials about the threats against Turner, the source of the threat, and whether she or any other commissioners had also been threatened
  • August 2, 2022: seeking to confirm or deny an allegation as to whether one of Franklin’s children had received a GEO Groups scholarship, what the award criteria were, and whether it posed a conflict of interest
  • September 13, 2022: whether she would call for an internal audit of Georgia Micro Enterprise Network (GMEN) and when its contract to distribute ERAP funds had been awarded
  • September 13, 2022: seeking comment as to the truth of a claim that Hill and Starr “have allegedly made some kind of deal to take over the BOC and, through that route, make Victor Hill Public Safety Director, get rid of Chief Roberts, and either merge CCPD and CCSO or place CCSO over CCPD?”
  • September 15, 2022: whether Franklin knew “why Nathaniel Burgess would pay $500.01 for an open records request that county records show came from Sherrad Frink, but about which ‘Concerned Citizen’ publicly claimed cost  $1,738.50? What is Mr. Burgess’ interest in this matter?”
  • October 18, 2022: seeking comment on Brandon Turner’s slander lawsuit filed against her and another against Anderson
  • January 14, 2023: seeking more information on Franklin’s comment during the January 10 work session on the Mauldin and Jenkins audit that “you were an internal auditor when you first moved to Georgia. Could you please confirm when that was and for whom you worked?”

Franklin alleged that the GBI was not serious about getting to the bottom of the threatening letters, saying they would have seized computers and data if they were, and intimated that GBI Director Michael Register was showing favoritism to Turner because both men had served as Clayton County police chief.

According to Franklin, soon after the GBI interviewed her at her home, “a little bit later, I noticed that there were some anonymous e-mails going out to the public and you could see the top of the screen of the computer that I sent an e-mail to the GBI showed that it had to be a high level operations manager, and there are only a few people in our county that have that type of access. And I can tell you this, that it would not be necessarily an administrative assistant, it would be the one that is over said operations and you could see that at the top. Not only did I notify the GBI, but I sent it to our chief of police, our sheriff’s office, and again our district attorney, because I really had concerns for our safety as board members.”

Franklin did not mention that she herself had mass-forwarded multiple pseudonymous e-mails containing unsubstantiated allegations about county employees—including Brandon Turner—to dozens of elected officials, members of the local news media. Specifically, Franklin forwarded a false allegation that Brandon Turner was a convicted felon. The Clayton Crescent pulled his court file and found that his record had been expunged years before. (Brandon Turner does not report directly to Jeff Turner.)

She said that she learned of Holloway’s termination “through other channels” and that “none of the board was notified of her termination.” Word that Holloway had been fired and was to turn herself in had been circulating over the past week, but was not confirmed until she presented herself at CCSO Monday around 4 p.m. Just in time for the 5 p.m. news Monday, the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office’s Nixle account announced that Holloway had turned herself in and that she had made various allegations, none of which CCSO has substantiated for the public as of press time, including that Turner had written the threatening letters and mailed them to himself. Turner told The Clayton Crescent that was false and that he would be bringing suit against Holloway.

Turner reissued his statement today to members of the Atlanta news media, reiterating that any further questions should be referred to the GBI.

Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....

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