Former Cobb Energy board member Dean Alford resigned from the Georgia Board of Regents on Thursday, suspected of racketeering and theft.
The 66-year-old is the subject of arrest warrants claiming he lodged fraudulent documents with a commercial financing firm in an effort to obtain payments through his own company, forging a University of Georgia employee’s signature in the process.
“Acts of fraud and corruption have no place in Georgia’s state government,” Attorney General Chris Carr said in a news release Thursday. “Those who are trusted to be public servants must discharge their duties ethically and honestly, and when they do not, this office and our law enforcement partners will hold them accountable.”
Alford, the president and chief executive of Allied Energy Services, was among those at the center of one of Cobb’s biggest corporate scandals involving the Cobb Electric Membership Corporation. Alford was a board member and shareholder of Cobb Energy, a for-profit subsidiary of Cobb EMC. Auditors of Cobb EMC during its time of infamy said Alford received $18 million during his years at the utility, although he claimed most of that money went to three subsidiaries he ran, not his personal accounts.
Alford’s alleged criminal activity at present is not related to Cobb EMC, but rather to his work with the Board of Regents, which is tasked with overseeing the University System of Georgia.
Carr and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are working together on the investigation into Alford’s dealings. They say he is suspected of transmitting fraudulent documents to Versant Funding LLC, a corporate financing company, for the purposes of deceiving the company into believing he had legitimate purchase agreements and accounts receivable with various entities.
“It is alleged that Alford was attempting to sell such accounts receivable to Versant in exchange for $1.7 million,” the press release issued by Carr and the GBI said.
Alford is also accused of criminal attempt to commit theft by taking, in relation to him creating a fraudulent invoice acknowledgement form. The form, dated Sept. 24, 2019, was to be submitted to Versant, falsely asserting that the University of Georgia would pay the company almost half a million dollars to satisfy a debt owed to Alford’s company, Allied Energy Services. Alford allegedly forged a university employee’s signature on the document, Carr and the GBI said.
“The actions were all in an attempt for Alford to obtain payments from Versant,” the press release stated, explaining that it seems Alford exploited a common finance industry practice called “factoring.”
“Factoring is a financial transaction in which a business may sell its accounts receivable to a third party at a discount,” the press release stated.
GBI Director Vic Reynolds said the agency is committed to holding violators of public trust accountable for their actions.
“This illustrates that fraud and corruption at any level will not be tolerated in Georgia,” Reynolds said.
The University System of Georgia and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement are assisting with the ongoing investigation into Alford’s work, the GBI confirmed.