ATLANTA — A member of the University System of Georgia's Board of Regents has resigned following a state investigation into a nearly $1.8 million racketeering scheme.
Authorities say warrants have been secured for Clarence Dean Alford for the scheme and attempting to defraud the university system out of almost half a million dollars.
"Members of the Board of Regents must adhere to the highest ethical and moral standards,” said Board Chairman Don Waters. “This is essential to ensuring the public’s trust, to fulfilling our duties and obligations to students, and safeguarding the integrity of the University System of Georgia and its Board."
According to a joint statement from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Attorney General Chris Carr, Alford is suspected of sending fraudulent documents to Versant Funding LLC with the goal of deceiving the company into believing that he had legitimate purchase agreements and accounts receivable with various entities. Investigators allege that Alford was attempting to sell such accounts receivable to Versant in exchange for $1,798,327.06.
He also faces a charge of criminal attempt to commit theft by taking for creating a fraudulent invoice acknowledgment form to Versant. Investigators say the document appears to have falsely asserted that the University of Georgia would pay Versant $487,982.88 to "satisfy debt owed to Alford's own company," Allied Energy Services.
Allegations suggest Alford also forged the document using a university employee's signature.
This was all apparently an attempt by Alford to get money from Versant.
"Acts of fraud and corruption have no place in Georgia’s state government,” said Attorney General Carr. “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.”
On his Board of Regents bio page, which has recently been taken down, Alford is said to be the president and chief executive officer of Allied Energy Services where he is responsible for over $5 billion of energy projects in Central and North America. He also served as a consultant to the U.S Congressional Office of Technology Assessment. His focus was on energy policy issues.
The University System of Georgia said Alford was the Chair of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association years ago.
The bio page also said Alford served on the state board of education until 2006 after his appointment by then-governor Sonny Perdue. In 2007 he was appointed to the Technical College System of Georgia board of directors. According to the USG, he served as chairman from 2009 until 2011. Former Governor Nathan Deal appointed him to the Board of Regents in 2012.
Long before his stint in various state education leadership positions, Alford served as a five-term member of the Georgia House of Representatives between 1983 and 1993.
“This illustrates that fraud and corruption at any level will not be tolerated in Georgia,” said Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Vic Reynolds. “GBI’s partnership with prosecutors and other law enforcement agencies is essential to continued public trust. Our agency is committed to holding violators accountable.”
Since the release of the news, Governor Brian Kemp has weighed in saying he "demanded and received" Alford's resignation in a statement from his office.
“Every state official must follow the highest ethical standards in all aspects of their conduct," the statement read.
A family spokesperson also tells 11Alive that Alford's wife and a former director fo the Georgia Lottery, Debbie Dlugolenski, is filing for divorce and said she is shocked to hear of the day's developments.
Dlugenski retired as president and CEO of the Georgia Lottery Corporation in January of 2018.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to say Alford previously served as chair of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association. The bio page for the Board of Regents, which has since been removed, listed him as a member of the Board of Trustees and Chairman of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association and also a member of the Georgia Tech Foundation. However, 11Alive has since learned he was the Chair of Alumni many years ago.