court-updates.jpg.gallery.jpg

#DallemandBriberyCase Daily Updates

Check back here for regular updates on the alleged #DallemandBriberyScheme trial.

Week Two:  Day 1

Monday,October 1, 2018

  • Dr. Romain Dallemand is still on the witness stand.  Defense Attorney, Bruce Morris began cross-examination for the defense. 

  • Dallemand is the prosecution’s Star Witness in exchange for a lesser charge of incorrectly filing his taxes.  Not taking bribes, not laundering federal funds, not manipulating charitable donations, just incorrectly or falsely filing his taxes.  

  • Attorney Morris was smooth, exacting and relentless.  He kept Dallemand on the stand for almost 5 hours.  

  • He pushed Dallemand in a few uncomfortable spaces which revealed some larger holes in the prosecution’s case. 

  • The breakdown on the problems the prosecution has so far:  Whitby was Dallemand’s only friend after his tumultuous tenure as Bibb’s Superintendent.  Whitby gave Dallemand funds from her personal checking account.  Whitby gave Dallemand funds after he left the school district as one of the main investors in Dallemand’s “education reform” initiatives. 

  • Dallemand’s stories switch more than trains in the NYC subway system and whatever redeeming qualities he had left to maintain a friendship with Cliffard Whitby are long gone. 

  • Morris pounded the life out of Dallemand’s story.  His realignment of the timelines is almost irrefutable as he tied each timestamp with a document.  Most of the documentation was from Dallemand’s own words. 

  • Dallemand’s timeline, statements to the Grand Jury, statements to the prosecution as well as is version of the transcript aren’t adding up to anything but more holes. 

  • While he has been admitting his own personal character flaws while on the stand, is it enough for the jury to believe? That’s the real question because Morris blasted the prosecution’s timeline by constantly referring to documentation of Dallemand’s own words. 

  • Last week, Dallemand called the “Belhannes LLC” a front company and called the plans for the Haiti University Village “window dressing” in case there were questions. Well there’s a pretty big issue with calling something “window dressing” that you pitched to a group of ministers, at churches, and to other charitable organizations.  

  • Education Reform is definitely what Dallemand would like to believe is his specialized field. He created another initiative called the School District Reform Collaborative SDRC—the organization had a website (expired since 09/20/2018), a board of directors, and a location for workshops.  These initiatives were created later in his tenure as Bibb Supt and he was constantly seeking investors for all of them.  Cliffard Whitby was one of the few investors who still believed Dallemand could deliver on his promises. 

  • The “Placemat” which became of some interest to local media came up today.  Dallemand claims Whitby elaborately wrote out the schema of their whole bribing scheme on a placemat, however, he didn’t alert the FBI to its existence.  Additionally, the device Dallemand was using in the sting was audio and video, however, the FBI agents who were sitting in a car a few feet away didn’t seem to find it necessary to find the “placemat” either.  If the sting was set up to reveal the bribery scheme, why would Dallemand leave such a critical clue?  

  • As the day wore on, Dallemand was sometimes combative, arrogant and at other times menial. He had a few moments of public self-reflection while on the stand. 

  • After the lunch break, Defense Attorney Seth Kirschenbaum took Dallemand to task on cross. The difference in the cross examination of Morris and Kirschenbaum is a matter of specializations.  Kirschenbaum is a technical attorney; he specializes in the finite details.  He didn’t waste a moment of time weaving Dallemand thru a line by line comparison on his tax returns.  He revealed other inaccuracies and details that didn’t seem to match Dallemand’s original tax issues.  

  • In his opening statement, Kirschenbaum mentioned the “Dallemand Kool-Aid”.  Based on his cross, he wasn’t sipping any.  The technical side of the law isn’t easy to present or express; it can really wear on the patience of a layman. Kirschenbaum being an experienced technical attorney managed his time well. 

  • Next up, Defense Attorney James Judkins of Tallahassee FL represents Harold Knowles. Judkins began his cross-examination of Dallemand gently as a reset so Dallemand would be easier to cross.  He talked to Dallemand about his WHY for going into education and he asked for a timeline/process for how he got hired at Bibb County Board of Education.  Judkins has a stellar reputation as a “Matlock” styled attorney.  Because his focus is on the technology side of the case, he presented Dallemand with a technology audit performed on Bibb County School System. He noted how the Bibb County School District’s technology was documented as the worst in the state and possibly the country.  He also noted the low-performing school’s reputation of the Bibb School District. 

  • Dallemand agreed and shared even more of the challenges he faced when coming to the Bibb school system.  

  • Judkins asked Dallemand this question, “What or where is your greatest accomplishment as a superintendent?”.  Dallemand recounted his tenure as Asst. Superintendent of schools in Hartford, CT. He recounted his success at moving special need students into he general education/population setting.  Increased achievement in literacy and numeracy.  He noted that he has always been a consummate professional. 

  • Before Judkins could go any deeper, Judge Treadwell called for the end of the day.  Due to the number of lawyers and cases, Judge Treadwell has extended the day to 8a-3pm, an additional hour from what the jury originally requested. 

  • Due to the Columbus Day holiday, there is a possibility of Saturday as a court day and possibly Columbus Day as well. 

 

Week Two: Day 2

 

 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

  • Week Two-Day Two of the #DallemandBriberyCase which is better described as the #DallemandKoolAidCase because only a person sipping on his Kool-Aid would ever believe anyone was trying to bribe Dallemand.  He literally had very little popularity or capital on the school board from almost DAY ONE.  He even admitted that most of the time other people had to whip the votes for him because the board was so racially separated and polarized. 

  • The recording and transcript (Dallemand’s/Prosecution’s version ONLY) will finally be released to the public.  It’s a hard case to make for a “smoking gun”.  The audio is hard to hear because of the restaurant noises.  No big GOTCHAs because the transcript of the call is still left up to interpretation.  Whitby repeatedly tries to encourage Romain Dallemand to get an attorney.  Some profanity and a few names dropped but mainly no real juicy convo even with Whitby unaware that Dallemand was recording him. 

  • The morning began with Harold Knowles’ attorney Judkins finishing a testy cross examination of Romain Dallemand.  Dallemand seems to be tasting some ‘humble pie’.  Whatever he thinks he is apologizing for has long left the hearts and minds of most Maconites. 

  • Dallemand finally leaves the witness stand escorted by two US Marshals. Mercer Law Professor Dave Oedel was almost clotheslined by the marshals as he was trying to get access to Dallemand.  It is doubtful Dallemand even knows who he is. 

  • The rest of the prosecution’s day was lackluster unless you are a big fan of lawyers cross examining lawyers:

    •  Patrick Millsaps: former Bibb School District counsel and partner at Hall-Booth has left the legal and political world, he is currently working in the TV/Film industry in Atlanta. He had little to offer. One humorous moment of the day was after Millsaps left the witness stand, Judge Treadwell mentioned how he was the most questioned witness with the least amount to say. 

    • Next up was former School District Attorney Andrea Jolliffe who is currently with Hall-Booth. Her testimony added some context for the legal questions surrounding the PICD lease, however, one of her most interesting moments was her confession. She confessed that she suggested and wrote the reprimand letter for CFO Ron Collier.  Ms. Jolliffe has an extensive resume for working with school districts all the nation and is an expert in school board policy.  She opined that the Bibb School District was the most dysfunctional, racially polarized, mistrusting school board she had ever seen.  She also commented on how the policies were outdated and most of the board members were clueless as to their relevance and meaning.

    • Randy Howard, Chief Counsel for the Bibb County School District, didn’t add anything new or different. He believed the MPN was great for the children and he also referred much of the work to Bond Attorney, Kevin Brown or the attorneys at Hall-Booth when encountered with legal matters that were not his expertise. 

    • Dr. Lori Rodgers, Asst Supt at the Bibb County School District and former Executive Director of Title I and Special Services explained how the Title I federal funds are allocated and how the grants were managed for the school board.  She didn’t have too much else to offer and couldn’t remember exactly what or how Title I funds were spent.  The prosecution was aiming for a logical case against needed additional dollars spent or duplication of services from the MPN but they never quite got to that point for the jury.  

    • The Jury: At some points during the day, over half the jury is fully asleep.  Not catnapping, asleep.  One juror even had a blanket today. 

    • Ron Collier, CFO for the Bibb School District.  YEP..that Ron Collier, CFO who ended up demoted, in warehouse, and the plaintiff on a whistleblower case will take the stand for the prosecution tomorrow. Mr. Collier’s testimony will add more technical content on the financial end but may end up being a regurgitation as well.  Either way, his relationship with Romain Dallemand is sure to be explored on Wednesday morning. 

  • Will the prosecution rest tomorrow? OR do they have one more star or surprise witness? 

  • While they are hoping for the trial to be over by Friday of this week, that is highly unlikely because there are literally three more cases with witnesses, expert witnesses, and closing statements.  

Week Two: Day 3

 

 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

  • Week Two-Day Three of the #DallemandBribery Case continued with the Prosecution’s witnesses:

    • Kevin Brown, Esq.:  Yes, that Kevin Brown, Chief Counsel to the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority for over a decade was a witness for the prosecution.  It was good to see Brown finally make it to the witness stand since his name and signature are on so many if not all the documents around the MPN, PICD, and even the creation of the Belhannes LLC, Dallemand’s organization. Brown is a Bond Attorney who specializes mainly in government relations type deals that turn a profit for local governments.  Most of his involvement was at the behest of Cliffard Whitby who he claimed had been a “friend” for almost 11 years.  

      • Brown learned about the MPN through Whitby and Dr. Peter Brown was one of his professors at Mercer University.  He visited the Ballard building with Whitby in 2009.  He called it an eyesore and advised Whitby against purchasing it.  

      • Eventually, Brown met with Whitby and his wife to assist them in setting up the CGPICD (Central Georgia Partnership for Individual and Community Development). Once the Whitbys explained their commitment to helping the Unionville/Tindall Heights community through a non-profit organization, Brown claims he helped them with setup, inducement resolutions, bond process, lease documents, and connected them with the UDA (Urban Development Authority). 

      • Brown first met Dr. Dallemand at the old Jock and Jill’s restaurant, a sports bar previously located on Riverside Drive.  He met with Whitby and Dallemand to discuss a partnership/collaboration for designing a new company whose purpose was to assist executive level school board personnel with high level retirement/compensation packages. Dallemand had never setup a company before and asked Brown for help.  Brown explained some of the details.  Due to Dallemand’s hesitance to set up his company in GA due to the public pressure he was experiencing so Brown suggested Delaware as the place to file his corporation. Delaware has better tax laws and an easier process.  Dallemand couldn’t come up with a name so Brown suggested using his children’s name in some type of combination to avoid duplicating another name. Six months later, Brown had to assist Dallemand in getting a Tax ID # for the business as well. Brown claims to have had no other dealings with Dallemand beyond helping to set up the business. 

      • Dallemand asked Brown if he could hold $100.000 in his firm’s trust account, Brown refused and suggested that Dallemand consider using a smaller law firm’s trust account.  Brown didn’t feel comfortable with involving his firm in such a transaction. 

      • Later, Dallemand contacted Brown for help in setting up a project in Haiti or the Dominican Republic.  Brown refused the help and suggested Dallemand consult with attorneys who handle that type of work. 

      • Nick Lotito, Defense Attorney asked Brown about his relationship with Whitby, Whitby’s business success, commitment to the community, and connection to MPN, PICD, and the paperwork surrounding the communications between the school board attorneys, PICD attorneys, and Mercer University. 

        • Brown thought the building was an eyesore but was supportive of the non-profit for the targeted neighborhood because as a student under Dr. Peter Brown while at Mercer University, he had done some volunteer work and tutoring at the four schools.  He believed Whitby was a successful businessman based on his limited knowledge of Whitby’s business accomplishments. 

        • Brown suggested Boone Smith to the PICD organization since Smith had clerked for him and was an expert in the formation and management of non-profit organizations. 

      • Attorney Labriola after two weeks of asking witnesses to identify the Bond Book, Brown was the first to know and understand what the Bond Book meant to the entire case. Brown helped the jury to understand the bond process by using laymen terms to explain how it all worked.  The entire courtroom was very attentive to his explanation of how such a complex topic worked. 

        • One of Brown’s main points about bonds is how important and almost sacred the reliability and reputation of a bond has to be.  Given the number of stakeholders in the bond process as well as the approval by superior court judges, he made sure the school district attorneys were aware of the sensitive nature of dealing with bonds. Brown noted that the entire reputation of the attorneys and the project rely on the validity of a bond.

    • Ron Collier, CFO of Bibb County Schools-Macon GA: Collier was a witness for the prosecution and probably for the first time since his whistleblower lawsuit, he got a chance to tell his story and correct some of the assertions made about his tumultuous tenure as CFO under Dr. Romain Dallemand.  Collier claims he didn’t refuse to cut the million dollars check for the MPN/PICD, he said he asked for more time to research where the funds would come from and to note any legal or policy issues around making the payment. He admitted to serving on the Superintendent’s Cabinet during Dallemand’s tenure and believed his responsibility as CFO was as an advisor and watchdog.  Collier noted his role as CFO for 22 years without any reprimands or demotions.  When Defense Attorney Seth Kirschenbaum engaged Collier in a cross-examination, Collier became combative.  Kirshenbaum is a sharp litigator and skilled at cross examination.  The most unbelievable moment which sent the jury into audible gasps was Collier’s inability to recollect any details about the four schools supported by the MPN, the graduation rates of the district, the status of SWHS’s graduation rate, the condition of the communities in Unionville/Tindall Heights, and most notably his claim of not knowing what his wife’s employer did.  Collier’s wife worked in the Finance Department of Macon-Bibb EOC, Inc. one of the main partners of the MPN initiative.  The late Jimmie Samuels was his wife’s boss while Collier wrote a letter to Dr. Dallemand claiming his reluctance to write a check on an invoice from his wife’s boss Jimmie Samuels was an issue for him—he claimed he didn’t know what EOC, a long-term non-profit organization in Macon-Bibb serving the poor and marginalized, did or what his wife did for the organization.  He also couldn’t recall meeting with the prosecution team or the FBI even when Kirschenbaum referred to the transcripts/reports from the meetings. It wasn’t a shining moment for the school district especially since Collier is responsible for a $300million budget largely made up of taxpayer dollars at the local, state, and federal levels.  Collier claimed that he was searching for the laws rules regulations etc. that would prohibit him from writing the check to PICD.  He never produced any of those laws, rules, or regulations and that part of his lawsuit was thrown out too.  

    • Sharon Roberts, CFO of Birmingham AL Schools:  Roberts was appointed interim CFO when her boss Ron Collier was sent to the warehouse. Roberts testimony is key for the prosecution and the defense alike.  Why? For the prosecution, she was able to confirm how tumultuous the district had become because of the tensions between Dallemand and Collier.  For the defense, Roberts confirmed her job responsibility to cut checks approved by the board regardless of her opinion.  She stated that she talked to Randy Howard, District Counsel, before paying invoices or making transactions and once Howard gave her his legal approval, she performed her work duties.  She admitted during cross from PICD’s Attorney Steve Labriola that she had never seen the bond book but read the district’s name in the bond book’s index of fiduciary partners.  

    • Brian Gerard is on the Defense Team and from Macon GA.  He cross-examined Sue Sipe, Current Bibb BOE member representing District 3:  Sue Sipe was one of the loudest opponents to the Dallemand agenda with Gary Bechtel and Lynn Farmer.  How her testimony builds on the prosecution’s strategy isn’t clear but I am sure we will find out in the close.  The most important statement Sipe made today was about how boards operated.  She stated that the board operates as one not as individual members.  She also confirmed what Attorney Andrea Jolliffe said on the stand the day before about how the Bibb County School Board was mistrustful of each other, racially polarized, and dysfunctional.  The board voted unanimously on more than one occasion on specific resolutions, MOUs, and direct actions, regardless of individual issues or opinions, the board spoke as one. Sipe also recounted her full support for the Macon Promise Neighborhood initiative and how excited she was for the schools and community it would impact. 

  • Side note: Beth Howard is sharp and doesn’t miss a beat---watching her work is inspiring.  She is a young woman holding her own on a case mostly dominated by male attorneys. 

  • The prosecution has two more witnesses then they will rest their case.  Defense should be up tomorrow and Judge Treadwell will discuss the schedule later due to Monday being a federal holiday, vacation requests, etc.  

Week Two: Day 4

Thursday, October 4, 2018

  • Week Two-Day Four of the #DallemandBriberyCase begins with the prosecution finally resting with its last two witnesses and the defense finally getting a chance to present its case to the jury:

  • The prosecution called Susan Middleton, attorney and former Bibb School Board member as a witness.  Middleton pretty much towed the same line as most witnesses by expressing her full support of the MPN.  Her absence from a few meetings but her understanding of the MPN, the Promise Center and the board’s obligations were inconsistent.  She noted her remembrance of when Dallemand came to the school district, her absence from one of the critical MPN votes, and when asked if she knew that former school board member and former county commissioner Gary Bechtel had signed an MOU for the MPN as early as 2010, she did not.  Brian Gerard, Defense Attorney, pointed at Gary Bechtel who was sitting in the public gallery.  Middleton told the jury how much she respected Cliffard Whitby and shared his vision for the children in Unionville.  She noted how much Whitby cared about the community its economic condition and progress.  Like other witnesses, Middleton discussed the difficulties and sometimes dysfunction of the board as well as the community to work together for mutual solutions to problems faced by Macon. She said, “Macon is a difficult and ugly place.”

  • The prosecution called retired FBI agent and financial analysis Raymond Kyle to present his chart or tracking of the money of the Bibb BOE, PICD, Positiventures LLC, Knowles & Randolph, and Romain Dallemand.  Like any technical expert, he presented charts, tables, and flow charts.  He explained each exhibit to the jury. On cross examination, Kyle was asked about specific line items but couldn’t draw any conclusions about whether a crime had occurred because he was only called to authenticate transactions.  He noted that none of the transactions were illegal and he didn’t know if they were bribes or not; he only designed a flow chart for the movement of the funds. Kyle noted how it was commonplace for businesses to have more than one account but he would not comment on how the trust accounts for law firms operate.  

  • The prosecution/government rested its case. 

  • Nick Lotito, Lead Defense Counsel called the 1stCharacter witness for Cliffard D. Whitby: The Honorable Robert Reichert, Mayor of the consolidated city of Macon-Bibb County.  We told you the witness list was a “Who’s Who.  Mayor Reichert Is also an attorney.  

    • Mayor Reichert discussed his long-term friendship with Cliffard Whitby as a connection rooted in their desire to see the best for Macon and its future. 

    • Reichert was an early supporter of the MPN and shared his full support for the initiative. He has been the best witness to explain in detail the challenges faced by the Unionville/Tindall Heights community and the need for the MPN initiative. 

    • He mentioned a field trip to the East Lake Community in Atlanta GA.  Whitby was on the trip too.  Whitby was particularly excited about the work in East Lake especially the change in academic achievement of the children attending East Lake schools which were once some of the lowest performing in Atlanta and the state. Mayor Reichert was also impressed by the initiative. 

    • The op-ed piece was finally allowed into evidence.  Mayor Reichert read the paragraph enumerating his support for the progress the MPN was already making for the children/students and parents in the community.  The services were being provided by and at the Promise Center.  The op-ed written in support of the MPN was written jointly by Mayor Reichert, Bill Underwood-President of Mercer University, Peter Brown-Mercer Professor and others. 

    • Prior to the full initiative, Whitby took the Mayor to visit the building.  Mayor Reichert couldn’t believe he wanted such an eyesore but he also knew if anyone could turn that building into something useable it was Whitby.  Based on his other blight removal, neighborhood revitalization, and historic refurb projects, Whitby had a proven record of turning ugly ducklings into swans. Mayor Reichert told the jury, “Cliffard Whitby can turn any chicken poop into chicken salad.  Everything he touches transforms into something excellent.”

    • Mayor Reichert became very emotional on the stand as he retold the timeline and sequence of events of the Promise Center’s move into the hands of the Bibb BOE.  The Bibb BOE changed the name in a ceremony; Cliffard Whitby attended that ceremony and was never acknowledged.  Mayor Reichert slipped him a note to thank him for the work he had done to transform the building, to transform the community, and for his commitment to Macon-Bibb County. 

    • During the cross examination, Lotito played a video of Romain Dallemand speaking at the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Promise Center.  Reichert noted how Dallemand was an effective orator and gave his full public support of the initiative based on the challenges not only in the four schools targeted area but the district.

    • When cross-examined by the prosecution, US Attorney Beth Howard noted Whitby’s support of Reichert’s mayoral campaign in contrast to Dallemand’s support of another candidate for Macon’s mayor. 

    • When asked if he believed the MPN initiative could have been accomplished without the Promise Center or if developed by someone else, Reichert offered the following:

      • The building could only be used for specific purposes as it had only been zoned for residential and not industrial purposes.  He noted it had been abandoned for many years and would have remained a code violation and junk heap if not for Whitby’s vision. 

      • Reichert mentioned the ongoing controversy surrounding Dallemand’s tenure at the Bibb School System.  He believed the MPN received some of the byproduct of the issues surrounding the Macon Miracle, Dallemand’s controversial strategic plan for the school system. He agreed with Lotito’s assertion that the “toxic nature” of Dallemand’s leadership leaked over into the perception of the MPN. 

      • Reichert also noted as the sitting mayor, he believed it was his duty to support the superintendent of Bibb Schools and noted his support for Dallemand’s plan to reform education in Bibb County. 

      • He also noted that the Promise Center was not only the perfect venue but added a higher level of capacity for grant opportunities as a hub of wraparound services for the entire Unionville/Tindall Heights/ Southwest Macon area. 

      • Mayor Reichert called Whitby a visionary and transformative leader who is desperately needed in this community.

  • There was a slight change in the defense presentations.  Steve Labriola, Defense Attorney for PICD called his first witness. 

    • Attorney Boone Smith, IV is the Chief Counsel for PICD.  He has managed the non-profit’s financial status from its incorporation papers, bylaws, board member vetting, and annual reports.  Smith has a sterling reputation nationwide for his expertise in taxes, finances, and financial management.  His testimony outlined not only the timeline but all the processes, notifications, and policies of PICD.  

    • Smith noted that all transactions by PICD were legal and above board. PICD had operated for years without incident or issue.  

  • The Defense Team presented motions for acquittal on the following issues:

    • Attorney Brian Gerard challenged the government’s right to try the bribery case in the Middle District of Georgia based on a case law that cites venue as a consideration for indictment on bribery. 

    • Attorney Seth Kirschenbaum challenged the government’s indictment of money laundering on Positiventures LLC due to the prosecution’s inability to prove the definition of “money laundering” based on a Supreme Court Case. 

    • Attorney Jimmy Judkins challenged the prosecution’s proof money laundering against his client Harold Knowles. 

    • Attorney Nick Lotito challenged the prosecution’s proof that Cliffard Whitby bribed or rewarded Dallemand based on an inconsistent timeline presented by the government.  Lotito asserts two things: 1.  The Bibb Board approved the MPN project and Dallemand had no vote, no influence, and had lost all credibility to influence the approval of the deal. 2.  Cliffard Whitby didn’t write the $100k check to Dallemand; it came from Positiventures LLC and the prosecution hasn’t proven the direct link to Whitby. 

    • Attorney Steve Labriola challenged the prosecution’s proof that PICD had no prior or post knowledge of anything related to the case at all AND all PICD’s financial transactions have passed audits and the “smell test” for years 

    • Judge Treadwell will take all motions into consideration but probably will not rule until both sides are heard by the jury. 

    • The Defense Team has been turning the prosecution’s case into Swiss cheese for the past week by calling a string of witnesses who were supportive of the MPN and Whitby’s work. Their main complaint seems to be the same the citizens have been hearing for years, either they claim they didn’t know or didn’t understand. Today is Cliffard Whitby’s birthday; his best gift today other than his wife, children, grandchildren, family and friends is an excellent legal defense team.

  • Friday October 5thwill be back to the 8am-2pm schedule and Monday’s Columbus Day holiday will be a court day. 

Week Two: Day 5

Friday, October 5, 2018

  • Week Two-Day Five of the #DallemandBriberyCase with the Defense presenting its case:

  • Whitby Defense

    • Shawn Stafford: Stafford is well-known general contractor and entrepreneur in Macon-Bibb County.  Stafford met Whitby in professional circles in the construction industry and as members of 100 Black Men, Inc.  The two men share a commitment of community service and community revitalization.  Stafford’s firm did the construction work on the Promise Center/Historic Ballard Hudson building.  Stafford mentioned Whitby’s stellar reputation in the construction industry for his knowledge and always finishing work on time/on budget.  When asked if the lawsuit against the promise center’s lease had put their work on hold or prevented payment, Stafford said the work never stopped and his team finished on budget/on time.  The prosecution asked how often Whitby visited the worksite, Stafford noted that Whitby would drop weekly.  Whitby was excited about the project because he was elated about the possibilities the center would have for the entire community. 

    • Dr. Ivan Allen: President of Central Georgia Technical College is a native Maconite but only recently met Cliffard Whitby in the past decade.  He manages several campuses and projects across the state of Georgia and overseas. Dr. Allen’s manages programming that reaches 32k students.  He was on board with the MPN and the Promise Center immediately because the work aligns to the mission of CGTC which is to lift people out of poverty and life’s challenges to fully live productive and fruitful lives as adults.  CGTC continues to provide programming on the 1780 Anthony Road campus by serving 300 students in dual enrollment, providing GED courses, ESOL, citizenship, and other vocational programs.  Like Mayor Reichert, Dr. Allen always understood the vision of MPN, PICD and the Promise Center as a hub of wraparound services to improve outcomes from children, adults, and families in the Unionville/Tindall Heights corridor.  The basketball games are open to the community because like Whitby—Dr. Allen wanted to create a new sense of pride and ownership in the area. 

  • Knowles Defense:

    • Cory McFarlane: Defense Attorney, Pamela Marsh cross- examined Cory McFarlane one of the first witnesses called by the Knowles Defense Team.  McFarlane is somewhat of a prodigy founding his first tech company at 20 years of age. He eventually moved to Tallahassee to attend college and began a career in software development and neighborhood revitalization.  While working on the Frenchtown-Carolina Oaks neighborhood revitalization program, he met and became a partner of Harold Knowles. He has developed software products for Walmart, Duke Energy and a few other Fortune 500 firms.  Pinnacle as a firm, as software, and as a project management tool has won several awards nationwide and internationally.  A photo of the awards was shown to the jury. McFarlane also impeached Dallemand’s remark about the Pinnacle firm having business issues.  McFarlane uses a specialized finance software tool and reported how the firm/product had done at least $100 million in contracts and sales.  He answered questions about Bibb School Board and mentioned speaking with the IT Project Manager and Sharon Roberts, prior interim CFO to arrange for the wire of the funds.  

      • Upon cross, McFarlane also noted the following:

        • He had met Cliffard Whitby only once and that was to tour the Promise Center. 

        • He tried to pitch his software product to Whitby but to no avail.  Whitby was hard for him to contact. 

        • He had met Romain Dallemand only one and that was in passing at their office in Tallahassee. 

        • He never met with Cliffard Whitby prior to the one time. 

        • He had never met Whitby, Dallemand, and Knowles at a restaurant in small southern town in Georgia. 

        • He had never placed his cell phone in a separate car before meeting with Whitby, Dallemand, and Knowles in another vehicle. 

        • He never promised Dallemand $500k from a software deal. 

        • He never promised Whitby $1.2million from a software deal. 

        • Whitby never purchased any software products form them. 

        • Whitby was never a part of the Pinnacle projects with the school board. 

  • Whitby Defense:

    • Erica Eaton-PICD:  Witness for PICD, this was the first time the jury heard specifically about PICD’s vision and work.  Erica Eaton became a part of the project from an initiative she was part of with Macon-Bibb EOC, Inc.  She met Cliffard and Shantel Whitby while working on a separate community project. She created the logo for PICD and explained its theme and significance.  Eaton is from Virginia and came to Macon to attend Mercer University (undergrad) and Georgia College & State University (masters).  Eaton became the secretary for PICD’s board and became active with the PICD/MPN/Promise Center project.  As a parent in Bibb County, she also became very interested in Dallemand’s Macon Miracle.  She attended community meetings and other informational sessions about the Macon Miracle. Additionally, PICD was working on the MPN initiative and she was active in engaging the parents/families in the Unionville/Tindall Heights area.  Eaton could make the connection between the MPN/Promise Center and Dallemand’s education reform initiatives.  Many aspects of the Macon Miracle programmatically would be placed in the Promise Center’s programming such as housing for homeless students, behavior intervention initiatives, tutoring, sensitivity training, character education and other wrap-around services were best suited for the Promise Center.  The Promise Center didn’t have some of the same constraints as the school system in terms of space, personnel, and direct access to wrap-around service providers.  Eaton noted her pride in the work of PICD and her disappointment in the eventual sell of the building.  She was also proud of how PICD continued to stay on mission with the upgrades to the old Eugenia Hamilton Elementary school building transformation to a world class STEAM charter school.  Steve Labriola, defense attorney for PICD asked Eaton if Cliffard Whitby owned PICD, her answer was no.  

    • Rev. Bryant Wardell Raines: Pastor of New Pilgrim Missionary Baptist church shared his experience with Dr. Dallemand as a pastor in Macon-Bibb.  He explained how the faith community was happy to engage Dr. Dallemand who seemed so open to working with the churches and community to improve schools and outcomes for the kids.  Raines and other ministers became a sort of “kitchen cabinet” and advocacy group for Dallemand’s education reform initiatives and specifically the Macon Miracle. They participated in various meetings and helped to pitch Dallemand’s ideas to their congregations.  Raines remembered how his late father the state president of an organization over 1000 churches in GA encouraged all the pastors to support Dr. Dallemand and invited him on many speaking engagements.  The younger Raines noticed a shift in Dallemand’s rhetoric after public opposition began to grow.  He asserted that Dallemand began to pitch his own ideas and initiatives to them.  He also noted that Dallemand wanted the pastors to become pitch men to wealthy investors for his initiatives.  Raines mentioned a meeting with some pastors and business leaders, namely Whitby and Samuels were in attendance.  Dallemand was pitching his education reform initiative as well as his Haiti mission. Dallemand encouraged the pastors to help him win over Whitby and Samuels because they had already been successful at getting big donors like Mercer University and the DOE.  Raines claimed that Dallemand became less and less interested in even discussing the Bibb County School system and was more interested in his own personal fame.  He believes that Dallemand conned the community, raped it of its resources, and left the black community disgusted and disappointed.  He had some glowing remarks about Whitby’s work and commitment but only met him recently through the meeting hosted by Dallemand.  Raines also noted that even after he left the school board, Dallemand was still calling them trying to pitch his ideas. 

    • Rev. James K. Baker:  Pastor of New Beginnings Missionary Baptist Church was a liaison to Dallemand during his tenure in Macon to the faith-based community but mainly the black ministers. Baker hosted meetings in his home. He met with Dallemand at least once a week and spoke with him daily.  Baker was not his pastor but was his spiritual advisor.  Baker confirmed Dallemand’s public and private messaging as being different.  He claims that Dallemand had his eyes on bigger name recognition and fame as an education reform expert.  He discussed how Dallemand wanted to be introduced to wealthy well-connected people in the community who could eventually become investors for Belhannes and his Haiti initiative.  Baker claims his opinion changed of Dallemand as his ego began to swell to the point of describing himself as a type of “Moses” sent to deliver Macon.  Baker also noted that the ministers in the community believed Dallemand was serious and passionate about the students and families in Macon-Bibb.  He also noted that as Dallemand became more comfortable with other ministers, he began to meet with them without his presence.  While Baker couldn’t confirm a definite timeline of occurrences, he provided a bit of comic relief to the jury and seemed to know Dallemand more exclusively than most of the other witnesses.  Baker claims that Dallemand became very distrustful and dismayed as public opposition began to increase.  He believes that Dallemand was setting up his exit early on and didn’t inform the ministers until a few days before his departure.  Baker says that Dallemand wanted the pastors to get a thousand people to show up in support for him at his last board meeting in Bibb County. Baker mentioned knowing Cliffard Whitby over a span of years due to the closeness in their ages and the size of Macon-Bibb.  He said he and the other pastors admired Whitby for his commitment and work in the community. Baker also believed that Dallemand had fallen on hard times because he called him for a loan of $5,000.00 almost a year after he had left the school district. 

  • Judge informed Whitby and Knowles of their rights to take the stand.  

  • No Columbus Day holiday, first thing Monday morning we are back in the courtroom.  Expect another long week, closing arguments, and this case will finally be sent to the jury.  

  • There are some very important motions on the table for the judge to consider.  Requests of acquittal have been made by the defense on a variety of issues with the prosecution's case.  While it is their job to find reasonable doubt in the prosecution's case, having a judge who has also been questioning the prosecution's case can't be good for the US Attorney's case.  Our take:  if the judge can't make heads or tails of it for the prosecution or the defense, the jury will definitely have a problem parsing through it.  The issues are as follows:  the venue of where the indicted crime took place is in question, whether or not the conspiracy charges have merit based on who the money actually belonged to and the timelines, whether a bribe took place since the person allegedly being bribed has no real power in how the lease was signed or the initiative approved (remember back in Week One when former board president Tommy Barnes said the superintendent worked for the board and not vice versa), the mechanics of the bribe are in question and the mechanics of a "reward" are even more in question, PICD wants out of it totally since the prosecution can't show how they knew or were duplicitous in the circumstances, Positiventures LLC wants out of it as well since they were simply a company making financial transactions to support PICD not Whitby, and lastly Knowles' team wants out since the prosecution hasn't really placed Knowles and Whitby even in the same room or as having any established relationship.  There's a lot to unpack.  See you next week!  

Check back here for the daily Court Updates.