SPECIAL PROSECUTOR WILL PROBE GILMER PROBLEM - Allegations Against Parks And Recreation Director

The state Ethics Commission is asking a special prosecutor to investigate criminal allegations against a former Gilmer County Parks and Recreation director, after Gilmer County Prosecutor Gerald Hough excused himself from the action.

After several months investigation, Wirt County Prosecutor Leslie Maze has been assigned to the case against Randy Maxwell.

Irregularities surfaced in an audit covering 2000-2003 which was presented to the Gilmer Commission.,

The audit expressed concern about falsified documents and the use of a credit card, and indicates that money owed the county should be repaid.

The Ethics Commission concluded that probable cause exists to believe that a criminal violation occurred while Maxwell was the director. Maxwell resigned earlier this year.

Their audit alleges that Maxwell purchased a TV satellite subscription for personal use that cost $4,000 and his actions may have cost over $5,000 in interest and penalties that were levied against Gilmer County by IRS because of issues created by the Parks and Recreation Board.

The audit also outlined wage-related check writing irregularities by Maxwell.

The ethics complaint was moved forward by Glenville resident Drew Moody, who claims that no action was taken to remove Maxwell by the Gilmer Commission after the findings in 2003 recommended a criminal investigation.

Moody has called for a full criminal investigation of the matter.

The complaint indicates that the irregularities may have cost taxpayers $10,000.

Moody contends that charges against Maxwell may have languished in Ritchie County, and it is likely some misdemeanor-level charges may have passed a statue of limitations.

A press release says Deputy Circuit Clerk Karen Elkin says Gilmer Commissioner Larry Chapman wanted to give Maxwell a Christmas bonus, despite the audit findings and "no other county employees were slated to receive one."