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October 27, 2011 Issue

Accused rapist hid in wooded area
Auditors say Wrens’ issues are common

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Accused rapist hid in wooded area

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

After 12 cold, wet hours of hiding in a wooded area and surrounding fields near Matthews, a man suspected of raping a 16-year-old Burke County girl was apprehended Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 19.

Deputies from Jefferson, Richmond and Burke counties, as well as officers from other agencies converged on Matthews in the early morning hours after deputies from Burke County located the vehicle 44-year-old Darrell Williams of Bulloch County, had been using to elude officers.

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Lt. Robert Chalker, an investigator with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, said they received a call about 5 a.m. that morning.

“Burke County had been in a chase with him and lost him in Jefferson County, then located his vehicle in the woods on Georgia Highway 88 about a mile east of Matthews,” Chalker said.

“His girlfriend was still with the vehicle. She was taken into custody by Burke County. She stated that Williams had left running through the woods from where the van was,” he said.

The investigator said officers set up a perimeter and brought in some dogs to track Williams.

“It was raining, which affected the dogs somewhat,” Chalker said. “Also, we could not get a helicopter until the weather cleared, which was later on in the morning.”

Chalker said officers worked to maintain the perimeter.

“We tried to keep the perimeter tight to keep him in that area until we could get the helicopter and dogs that could operate in the wet weather,” he said. “Then, mainly, it just took time.”

Jefferson County Sheriff Gary Hutchins said Williams led officers into Richmond County and back into Jefferson County where he ran out of gas.

He reportedly pushed the vehicle off the road and left his girlfriend inside when he took off into the woods.

Hutchins said Williams began calling 9-1-1 on his cell phone, which allowed law enforcement to determine his location.

“The calls showed what address he was close by,” Hutchins said.

The sheriff said officers followed some footprints and located Williams about 4:30 p.m. in a cotton field on Noah Station Road.

Burke County Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Dedric Smith said Tuesday the BCSO has charged Williams with rape and burglary.

His girlfriend, 52-year-old Diana Williams, has been charged with hindering apprehension of a wanted person, Smith said. That charge is a felony, he said.

The two are not related, Smith said.

“I think they’re just boyfriend/girlfriend,” he said.

Smith said Darrell Williams had been paroled after serving 11 years of a 15-year sentence for aggravated assault.

“He was paroled on that charge in May of this year,” Smith said, adding Williams has also been previously convicted of three counts of burglary as well as a previous theft by receiving stolen property conviction.

A parole revocation hearing is being set for next month because of the current charges against Williams, Smith said.

“He also had a parole warrant out for his arrest,” the officer said.

Smith said Williams did not resist arrest when he was located.

Diana Williams was cooperative at the scene, Smith said.

“She was cooperative. She gave us information as to which direction he ran in and so forth at the scene,” he said.

Although Williams reportedly complained of an injured leg, Smith said he had only a dislocated finger.

Hutchins said besides officers from the three county sheriffs’ offices, other agencies that assisted in the search were the Department of Corrections, the Georgia State Patrol, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Marshals and the Department of Natural Resources; but, there was one group of people who really helped – the people in the community.

“The people in Matthews were a lot of help,” Hutchins said.

“They helped us in a lot of ways. They fed the officers, came by and brought us drinks. They were a tremendous help. That‘s a close-knit community and they’re close up there. I just want to thank them for their help so we could retrieve this guy,” he said.




Auditors say Wrens’ issues are common

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

After two years of tough cuts which include reducing the city’s workforce by 20 percent, Wrens auditors say that despite a few minor findings, the city appears to have a better handle on its financial situation.

Wrens recently received an audit of the 2010 fiscal year, which was from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2010.

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Accountant Mark Davis of Jones, Jones, Davis and Associates, said the findings are in line with what most small towns and counties the company audits are facing.

“This is something we see in almost every audit,” Davis said. “The small towns cannot hire and pay enough personnel to segregate duties. The three things cited are very minor.”

In the findings, the city of Wrens was cited for lack of segregation of duties, reconciliation of general ledger accounts with subsidiary ledgers, and state budgetary requirements.

For the lack of segregation of duties, the audit states that there is not adequate segregation of duties between the recording, processing, distribution and reconciliation of cash accounts and other operational functions of the city.

“We have one person doing multiple tasks,” City Administrator Arty Thrift explained. “The auditors say it would be better to delegate tasks to other people, but when you have a small staff, it is hard to do. We wouldn’t be surprised if that was cited every year.

“We don’t have a big staff. Big cities have a chief financial officer, bookkeeper and they can afford to have segregation of duties.”

“Small towns cannot hire people just for segregation of duties,” Davis added. “Even the county had that citing. It is just our job to note it to the manager.”

Thrift said the person who handles the city’s financial records are monitored and part of the monitoring is getting an audit. Working with the auditors has improved the accounting structure in Wrens, Davis said.

The next finding was general ledger account balances are not currently being reconciled with corresponding subsidiary ledgers and other supporting information.

“Subsidiary ledgers and supporting documentation are an integral part of documenting general ledger balances and should be reconciled with the corresponding general ledger balance on a monthly basis,” the audit states.

Davis said that businesses should reconcile people to the amount they owe on the general ledger on a monthly basis.

“In proper internal control structure, you are able to do it monthly,” Davis said. “And this is common too with smaller entities. Sometimes doing what is required is not always the most important matter. But that is our job as auditors, to find where internal control can be improved.”

The city of Wrens is in the process of updating control procedures to include reconciliation of subsidiary documents with corresponding general ledger accounts, Thrift said.

The final finding is state budgetary requirements.

“The city violated state law by expending funds in excess of budgeted amounts at the legal level of authority,” the audit states. “The city’s legal level of authority is the department level. Expenditures exceeded budgeted amounts in the general fund general government department.”

In the audit, it is explained that state law mandates that actual expenditures are the same as budgeted amounts to ensure that budgeted expenditures are not exceeded which can result in expenditures in excess of the budgeted amounts.

“You’re supposed to do an amendment to the budget that reflects that change in the budget,” Thrift explained. “What we did was just keep up with it and track it. We have to have a formal amendment and we have started doing them.”

“Small government, in general, keep books on a cash basis,” Davis said. “They don’t keep track of accounts payable, so it is not uncommon. But cities have got to do a better job to amend the budget.”

Davis said all of these are small infractions.

“We get help from our auditors, from accountants and others,” Thrift added. “We know there are other ways to measure the city’s finances and we need all the measurement tools to get the clearest picture of where we are.”

Davis said that while financial statements are hard to comprehend, the financial picture for the city of Wrens has improved.

“The loss of that main gas consumer severely hurt them,” Davis said of the Mestek closing. “It is just something they will have to overcome.”

Davis added that while the city’s financial picture is better, the city did have to raise taxes, as well as taking several steps to cut the overall budget and reduce personnel. He also said that the city has gotten a better handle of their financial picture.

“Knowing you have a problem is the beginning,” Davis said. “They met with a financial committee. They cut the budget and cut personnel, which is hard to do. They have a 20 percent decrease in total employees.

“Small cities have limited revenue sources, sales tax and property tax, those are their main sources, whether they make money on water, sewer and gas funds is unclear. They have made money on them in the past, but going forward, I don’t know how it will work out. It is just a hard situation for all small municipalities. They are feeling the crunch from sales tax revenues because of a stagnate economy that decreases revenue.”

One of the only ways cities have to make more money is to grow the number of taxable households, which Davis said is a lot easier said than done.

“Right now the city is okay,” Thrift said. “We have a long way to go, but we are okay.”







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