Former Lake Allatoona manager indicted
by Jon Gillooly
December 24, 2013 01:00 AM | 9364 views | 3 3 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ron Papaleoni
Ron Papaleoni
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A Cobb grand jury says Ron Papaleoni wrote checks amounting to tens of thousands of dollars from the Lake Allatoona Preservation Authority’s accounts to his corporate account for personal use. Above right: Papaleoni portrays Santa Claus and says the sheriff has agreed to put off his arrest until after the holidays to not disappoint children.<br>Special to the MDJ
A Cobb grand jury says Ron Papaleoni wrote checks amounting to tens of thousands of dollars from the Lake Allatoona Preservation Authority’s accounts to his corporate account for personal use. Above right: Papaleoni portrays Santa Claus and says the sheriff has agreed to put off his arrest until after the holidays to not disappoint children.
Special to the MDJ
slideshow
MARIETTA — A Cobb grand jury has indicted Ron Papaleoni, former general manager of the Lake Allatoona Preservation Authority, accusing him of stealing from the government agency.

The grand jury says Papaleoni wrote checks amounting to tens of thousands of dollars from the lake authority’s accounts to his corporate account for personal use, where he made back payments to the IRS, church offerings and payments to his wife, Angela Papaleoni.

The nine-count indictment was handed down Dec. 12.

The next step is for the Cobb Sheriff’s Department to arrest Papaleoni and book him into the county jail. That step will be followed by an arraignment hearing, where Papaleoni will enter a plea. A plea of innocent would move the case to the trial calendar of the Cobb Superior Court.

“Our goal is always to pursue and prosecute as fast as the system will allow us,” District Attorney Vic Reynolds said. “We intend for when the case is put on the trial calendar the state will be ready to go.”



Busy playing Santa

Papaleoni, who lives in Acworth, is available to perform as Santa Claus for private or corporate functions, according to his Facebook page, and that’s what he was getting ready to do when the MDJ reached him by phone on Monday.

“I really don’t have anything to say,” Papaleoni said. “What the grand jury has handed down is one thing, but I have not been served anything, and the Sheriff’s Department has agreed to wait until after the holiday because I do Santa, and that’s information you could really go to town with and crucify Santa, and that’s why I wanted everybody to hold off until after the holidays.”

Papaleoni cut the phone call short, saying he had to go perform.

“That’s what I’m doing right now,” he said. “Two minutes away from sitting in the chair. It comes out tomorrow and it will devastate about another 150 kids.”

A Monday note on Papaleoni’s Facebook page said “Tonight may be the last chance you have to get your ‘Photo with Santa’ at JDs Bar-B-Que on Main Street in Acworth from 6-8PM. Kids eat free (if they believe) and JDs is giving one FREE photo per Family.”

The charges

The Lake Allatoona Preservation Authority, which is governed by a nine-member board appointed by the commissions of Cobb, Cherokee and Bartow counties, was created by the Legislature in 1999 to protect the lake. Papaleoni was originally a board member until the board hired him as its general manager in the early 2000s.

In 2008, the board hired him under the name of a corporate entity he created, called Premier Management Team.

The indictment charges him with making numerous payments to himself and his corporation in excess of his board-approved salary between Jan. 1, 2007, and Dec. 31, 2009. He initially wrote checks to himself from the lake authority as general manager.

“However, he convinced the board to hire Premier Management Team as general manager instead,” the indictment says. “This added an additional layer of check writing to LAPA disbursements, thereby obscuring his fraud.”

Almost all of the Lake Allatoona Preservation Authority’s funding is supplied by state and local taxpayer revenues.

The indictment charges Papaleoni with writing checks from the lake authority’s accounts to himself, his corporation and his wife on 10 occasions —totaling $32,200 — without documenting those checks in the lake authority’s general ledger.

On another occasion, he paid his wife $4,200 from the lake authority funds when his wife performed no services, the indictment says.

He is accused of presenting profit and loss statements to the board that were inconsistent with the disbursements reflected in the lake authority’s general ledger. When the board hired the accounting firm of Moore & Cubbedge to review its finances, the indictment says Papaleoni withheld documents.

“Each act was part of an intentional effort on (the) accused to prevent the board from acquiring information pertinent to the disposition of LAPA’s money, thereby furthering his deception,” the indictment says. “In spite of his fiduciary obligations, accused used his position to enrich himself, his family and his associates, at the expense of LAPA.”

The lake authority’s board fired Papaleoni, who was 66 at the time, on Dec. 30, 2009.

The case was jointly investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Cobb Sheriff’s Department.

Comments
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Mark Hoerrner
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December 02, 2014
First, I will tell you that Ron is innocent of anything but bad accounting. The plea bargain he took was to spare his family from further harassment in what is a significant case of trumped-up charges pursued by an external individual using public officials to satisfy a vendetta. Ron complied with the investigation four (almost five, now) years ago and turned over thousands of documents which the county conveniently "lost."

Cases like this involving complex financial transactions require top-rated defense attorneys with the ability to hire forensic accountants as expert testimony. Ron is a 20 veteran of the Navy living on a fixed income, so affording an expensive defense team is not something he could do in this case.

I would also note that I believe Ron deserved better than the stark treatment he was given. This is a man who, for nearly a decade, fed, clothed and provided Christmas and Thanksgiving for hundreds of people in the Acworth and Kennesaw areas. He honored vets, police, fire and ems professionals along the way. And he's dedicated his twilight years to making sure every vet who dies has a proper honor and burial. He was definitely not Public Enemy #1, but that's how he was treated.
R Layton
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January 04, 2014
All this over 32K? really? where are the indictments for the other Political Thief's that take hundreds of thousands of dollars from lobbyist and do their bidding. What a joke. Make him pay the money back and be done with this.
MustHaveProgress
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January 04, 2014
So let me see if I understand you correctly. It's no big deal to commit fraud as long as the dollar amount is relatively small? This was a rather complex, well thought out crime and justice must be served. This is true no matter how we personally feel about the individual involved.
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