Reichert discusses federal investigation into faith-based grant

Macon Mayor Robert Reichert on Tuesday said city officials are waiting to hear back from U.S. Attorney Max Wood's office in response to a letter the city sent outlining its assessment of what happened with a $1 million grant the federal government said was misspent.

Reichert, speaking to The Telegraph's editorial board, described the letter as "fairly extensive." He said it stated what the city knew about expenditures made from the Justice Department grant that Macon police managed and used to fund faith-based programs for at-risk youths.

Wood says $350,000 of the grant has not been properly accounted for, and the city could face a lawsuit from the U.S. government for three times that amount. The city has spent the past few months with officials from Wood's office trying to negotiate an out-of-court settlement. The letter from City Attorney Pope Langstaff to Wood is the latest round of communication, the mayor said.

"Some of this million dollar grant — in fact, I would say 75 percent of it — was OK," Reichert said. "Twenty percent of it, we're not so sure. And 5 percent of it was, 'You shouldn't have spent it for that.' "

Reichert declined to immediately release the letter sent by the city attorney, saying he first wanted to discuss that prospect with Langstaff.

Bad record-keeping may be an issue in the case, Reichert said, but at the same time, the city was not treated fairly a few years ago when most of its grant documentation was hauled off by the Bibb District Attorney's Office under court order. That allowed Bibb prosecutors, and later federal investigators, to spend four years combing through documents that the city no longer had access to, he said.

"Now they've told us what our records said," Reichert said.

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