NEWNAN, Ga. - The founder of a multi-county effort to feed hungry children each summer refuses to explain to the FOX 5 I-Team what happened to thousands of missing tax dollars.
April Smith-Scott already faces a criminal investigation.
State auditors found evidence some of that missing money was spent at a bridal store. April Smith got married last year. But frustrated state officials say she refused to offer any explanation.
We know the feeling.
Over and over again we asked April Smith-Scott and her husband Chris to clear up how more than $146,000 in tax money could wind up unaccounted for.
Over and over again neither Barnesville resident would offer a single answer as they walked to their car following a bankruptcy hearing.
State officials tell the FOX 5 I-Team they're getting the silent treatment, too.
Each summer, April Smith-Scott's non-profit, A.D. Smith Community Service, applied for thousands of tax dollars with the promise they would go to feed needy children. The summer food program is an important statewide effort that guarantees kids get at least one good meal each day when school is not in session.
But workers like Sherry Jones complained last year April Smith-Scott wasn't paying them. She's owed more than $5000.
"It's a very sad state of events that has happened," commented Ms. Jones after sitting through a creditors' meeting.
She was also one of April Smith's bridesmaids last year, an elaborate affair complete with a horsedrawn carriage, red carpet, and 27 wedding cakes.
Ms. Jones says April Smith bought the wedding dress and bridesmaids' shoes from David's Bridal, the same place where state auditors discovered her non-profit spent $6151.
Then in May 2017 -- one year after that big wedding -- April Smith-Scott and her husband filed for bankruptcy protection. Their total debts: $131,062.44, not to mention another $146,000 the state says she now owes taxpayers.
One of her many creditors is the Thomaston Milk Company. For six years owner, Bobby Coe provided milk for April Smith's summer food program. Now she admits stiffing the small business out of $22,120.54 last year.
"We're going to get through ours," predicted Coe. "But when you take other people's money and you abuse it and you don't do it for the cause that it needs to be cause for, that's to me just being selfish to yourself."
"To me, it's stealing. You have stole her money," he continued, pointing to fellow creditor Sherry Jones. "And you have stole my money."
The state agency Bright from the Start agrees, asking Georgia's attorney general to start a criminal investigation.
Despite her troubles, April Smith-Scott has one thing down pat: her right to remain silent.