GBI raids small town city hall
JACKSON COUNTY, Ga. - There's a line, where James Maxwell Road intersects with a small, unnamed road. The line is from where the smaller street was recently paved. It's black color contrasts against the gray surface of James Maxwell Road.
The question is, in paving that smaller road, did someone in the city of Nicholson cross the line?
Wednesday morning, GBI investigators raided Nicholson City Hall, and after six hours of digging, they came out with more than a dozen boxes. They're trying to figure out if someone in city government broke the law by using more than $20,000 in taxpayer money to pave that small road. A big part of the investigation, will be determining whether or not the road is private.
According to a Nicholson City Attorney investigation, the road has been used as only a private driveway, since a nearby road was expanded 10 years ago. There are two mailboxes on the drive. One belongs to the home of Nicholson Mayor Ronnie Maxwell's mother, and the other belongs to a Maxwell family business. The investigation also found the city had never before claimed ownership of or tried to maintain the road.
FOX 5's Chris Shaw spoke briefly to Maxwell's mother Wednesday. She said the mayor and most of the city council members were at a conference out of town. FOX 5 has also learned the GBI investigation will expand beyond that one road.
"We're going through all the records there at the city hall, basically to determine how money is being spent," Special Agent In Charge Mike Ayers said.
Agent Ayers also stressed the GBI investigation has not singled out any suspects.
"It's an issue of accountability," Agent Ayers said. "Right now, we don't know what we have, if anything."
When the GBI investigation is complete, the GBI will turn over its findings to the Jackson County District Attorney, who will decide whether or not to proceed with criminal charges.