East Point Mayor Earnestine Pittman
EAST POINT, Ga. -- East Point Mayor Earnestine Pittman believes there has been criminal activity by those who work for the city as an audit reveals no accounting for $200 million the city spent over twelve years.
"We were cheated," says Pittman. "We were stolen from. I believe fraud has taken place I believe money has changed hands at some point and time."
According to Pittman, a forensic audit revealed that the city spent $200 million from 2000 to 2012 without purchase orders that specify how the money was spent. The Mayor says there's no way to know what the city got for its money.
"A large majority of that money may have been spent legitimately," said Pittman. "But a great deal of it, I'm very suspect that it went anywhere near being spent on city related projects."
The city said it would not release the audit for another ten days, but 11Alive obtained a copy Tuesday afternoon. In addition to the missing purchase orders, the report, prepared by Minnesota-based company Felton Financial Forensics, found two years of financial records either incomplete or missing - a violation of state law.
City council member Jackie Slaughter-Gibbons said the city needs tougher oversight when it comes to spending.
"Nobody knows anything," she told 11Alive's Blayne Alexander. "We don't hold people accountable for what they do."
Taxpayers like Dashill Smith are disillusioned.
"Has it come to the point where everyone I put in power, are they corrupt?" said Smith.
The city of East Point released a statement.
"The City of East Point takes the findings from the audit very seriously," according to the statement. "We are deeply concerned regarding the findings and are in the process of investigating reported information. Any persons found guilty of wrongdoing will be prosecuted to the highest letter of the law."
Slaughter-Gibbons, a former Atlanta police investigator, said she does not believe any council members are guilty of wrongdoing and is eager to know the findings of the investigation.
"If there's somebody taking money, prosecute them," she said. "And I'll keep saying that. Prosecute them."
Pittman, whose battles with some members of city council are well documented, claims her opponents on council resisted attempts to dig into mismanagement.
"That would have checked and looked into this and saved this city money long before this audit report came out,"
One of Pittman's opponents on the council is Lance Rhodes, who denies the mayor's claims, but wouldn't comment further until he'd read the audit.