Money allegedly embezzled from Georgia State Fair

The Bibb County District Attorney’s Office is investigating allegations that money was embezzled from the Georgia State Fair between November 2008 and April 2010.

Fair representatives turned over results of an audit in August, prosecutor Sharell Lewis said.

“Based on the fair audit, they had concerns about criminal activity,” she said.

Lewis said the district attorney’s office is conducting an investigation to determine who may be criminally responsible for taking the money and what charges should be filed.

About $43,000 is missing, according to the district attorney’s office.

Lewis said the case could go before a grand jury as early as October, but it’s possible the case won’t be presented until 2011.

Don Johstono, president of the fair’s board of directors, said fair officials conduct an annual audit. Because the fair moved from the fall to spring, the audit covered a year and a half.

He said he couldn’t comment on what accounts the money was taken from or who might be involved in the alleged embezzlement.

Although Johstono wouldn’t disclose the fair’s annual budget, he said the missing money has caused the fair to make some changes.

“That is a significant impact for us,” he said.

More checks and balances have been added to the way the fair handles its finances, and there have been some personnel changes, Johstono said.

“We’re taking steps to try to minimize the possibility this could happen again,” he said.

While the loss of money hurts, fair representatives still are looking forward to a “great fair” next year.

“We’re going to find ways to do more with less like everybody else,” Johstono said.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.