On a spring day last year, Romain Dallemand, the embattled ex-superintendent of Bibb County schools, went into a noisy restaurant in south Georgia to meet a man he now claims paid him more than $300,000 in bribes.
Dallemand, who was by then under the scrutiny of federal investigators as part of a public corruption probe of Macon’s school system, took with him what recent court filings describe only as “a recording device.”
It is not clear from the court papers what exactly was said, or whether authorities outfitted Dallemand with the recorder or if he used it on his own, just that it was used “to capture the conversation.”
The man he met in that unnamed restaurant that early-April day, Cliffard Whitby, then-chairman of the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority, allegedly gave Dallemand $24,000 in cash.
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Federal prosecutors contend the pair talked about “the bribe that was initially offered to Dallemand.”
Scant details of the meeting have emerged in recent court filings because prosecutors and lawyers for Whitby and other defendants have yet to agree on the accuracy of a transcript of Dallemand’s conversation with Whitby, which was prepared and edited by the FBI. The parties agree that portions of the dialogue is inaudible or hard to understand, in part, because of noise in the restaurant.
Dallemand, 49, served as Bibb superintendent for 28 months, from early 2011 until mid-2013. Last August, he pleaded guilty to, among other charges, filing a false tax return and under-reporting his income related to a $100,000 payment meant to ensure his support as superintendent of Macon’s Promise Neighborhood plan, which Whitby backed.
A federal indictment cites nine payments totaling $337,400 by check or money order — including two checks for $120,000 apiece — that Whitby is said to have made to Dallemand between August 2013 and June 2016.
Dallemand, who could face up to three years in prison and hefty fines, is scheduled to be sentenced in October.
Criminal cases against Whitby and others, whom Dallemand is expected to testify against, are set to go to trial here in July and September.
According to the transcript of a pre-sentencing hearing for Dallemand last September, the ex-schools chief is represented by a federal public defender. A judge at that proceeding declared Dallemand, whose salary as superintendent was about $230,000 a year, “financially unable to retain counsel.”
Dallemand also mentioned at the hearing that he was taking medication for anxiety. His lawyer, the transcript noted, said Dallemand’s wife “indicated that he seemed depressed.”
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.