Cherokee County commissioners did not break the law when they created a development authority to back bonds to relocate a now defunct recycling facility.
That's according to Shannon Wallace, the district attorney for the Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit. Wallace on Monday released the long awaited forensic audit of the failed Ball Ground Recycling veture. The 7,000+ page report "does not reveal any evidence of criminal wrongdoing by the Board of Commissioners."
"I have reviewed the entire audit and agree with this conclusion," she added.
The audit, which was performed by McClendon & Associates, has now been released to the county commission to review. However, the Cherokee Sheriff's Office, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation continue to investigate the project.
Both Commissioners Harry Johnston and Brian Poole said they didn't think the county having its name cleared will do much to reassure those who have been heavily critical of the deal and the burden its placed on taxpayers.
"I think it will reassure the reasonable folks who may have had doubts about us," Johnston added. "But, there's a faction that's determined to be our enemy, and will never be satisfied under any circumstances."
The commission in 2006 created the Resource Recovery Development Authority and backed up to $18 million in bonds, which were used to relocate Ball Ground Recycling to land along Highway 5 just south of Ball Ground.
The agreement stipulated Ball Ground Recycling operator Jimmy Bobo was to make payments of the bond into an escrow account, but the county learned in late 2011 Bobo hadn't been making the payments.
That forced the county to pick up the tab, which it will still be responsible for if it does not find a new operator for the site. Cherokee County has been actively recruiting and talking with possible companies to take over operations.
Ball Ground Recycling in late May filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and the company was subsequently forced to remove itself from the property.
The company was eventually dismissed from bankruptcy court, giving the county the green light to go after the company and Bobo to recover money from the failed deal.
The forensic audit was approved in late 2012 at the request of a previous grand jury that launched an investigation into the failed venture.