A nine-count indictment alleges that during his last three years as general manager of the Lake Allatoona Preservation Authority, Ron Papaleoni wrote more than $50,000 in checks from its bank accounts to himself, his wife and his son, while also using some of that money on personal expenses: a federal tax bill, a telephone bill, a church offering, and supplies from Home Depot, Office Max and Costco.
The indictment, handed down by a Cobb County grand jury Dec. 12, charges Papaleoni with two counts of violating the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act; six counts of theft by taking; and one count of theft by conversion.
It also says Papaleoni wrote a $5,000 check from the authority account to a nonprofit organization he owned and operated, wrote a $10,000 check to his own company, and wrote multiple checks to his wife, Angela, and son, Kevin, even though they performed no work for the lake agency.
Papaleoni headed up the water-protection agency for 11 years before being fired while under investigation Dec. 30, 2009. He declined to comment when reached on his cellphone Monday.
“I’m not allowed to make any comment,” he said.
Robert Morrison, the agency’s current general manager, said he was “sorry it’s come to this” but added that his board “would like to have some kind of closure.”
The Cobb County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation began looking at Papaleoni’s expenditures in 2010, after an audit of the water-protection agency found that he may have received payments from the agency to which he wasn’t entitled.
GBI forensic auditor Robert Balsam was the only witness called to testify before the grand jury.
The indictment covers three years, 2007 through 2009. It says Papaleoni, as general manager, was responsible for daily operations including writing checks and dispersing funds.
In 2008, the indictment says, Papaleoni persuaded the lake authority’s board to hire Premier Management Team, a company he created and owned, as its general manager, then “used his position to enrich himself, his family, and his associates, at the expense of” the lake authority.
Cobb County contributed $25,000 per year to the agency from 2006 through 2010. It has not contributed since. The agency also serves Bartow and Cherokee counties, and received money from the state government.
Other specific allegations in the indictment include:
- Papaleoni used agency funds to “cover the insolvency” of his company’s checking account on seven occasions. During six of those, he spent at least some of the money on personal items.
- He failed to return office equipment, furniture and computers that belonged to the agency.
- He withheld financial records during the investigation and falsified ledger entries to cover his alleged theft.
Morrison said the agency still exists, but has not received any government funds for the past three years. He said it has no plans to ask for funding next year.
Information outlined in the nine-count indictment against Ron Papaleoni.
(Date: check amount. Subsequent expenditure)
- 1/10/07: $2,000 to Papaleoni’s company, Premier Management Team (PMT). $250 check to son Kevin Papaleoni; $96.95 check to city of Acworth; $100 check to International Gospel Family Outreach.
- 3/1/07: $2,200 to PMT. $300 ATM withdrawal; $1,889.06 check to the IRS.
- 3/13/07: $3,300 to PMT. $300 ATM withdrawal; $423.79 to Costco.
- 5/3/07: $2,500 to PMT. $400 ATM withdrawal; $428.29 to Office Max; $240 to Bonnie Franz, endorsed to Kevin Papaleoni.
- 6/5/07: $10,000 check to PMT.
- 6/6/07: $4,200 check to Angela Papaleoni.
- 4/30/08: $3,550 to PMT. $332.92 to Home Depot; $200 ATM withdrawal; $248.93 to REI.
- 8/5/08: $3,333 to PMT. $300 cash not deposited; $1,200 check to wife Angela Papaleoni; $200 to Home Depot; $137.79 to AT&T.
- 8/8/08: $500 check to Angela Papaleoni.
- 12/9/08: $5,000 to Papaleoni’s nonprofit Joy Foundation.
- 12/9/08: $2,000 check written to Ron Papaleoni.
- 3/19/09: $5,000 check written to Ron Papaleoni.
- 4/10/09: $400 check written to Kevin Papaleoni.
- 4/13/09: $2,100 to PMT. No corresponding expenditures noted.