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Trial set for 2 accused in former Bibb Schools superintendent bribery scheme

Cliffard Whitby/WGXA file photo

MACON, Ga. -- The trial of Cliffard Whitby -- the former chairman of the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority -- and Florida attorney Harold Knowles began Monday with jury selection. Both are accused in a scheme to bribe the former Bibb County Superintendent and launder the bribe money.

Whitby, 54, and Knowles, 69, were indicted in Aug. 2017 for:

  • one count of conspiracy to pay a bribe to an agent of an organization receiving federal funds
  • one count of conspiracy to launder the proceeds of unlawful activity
  • five counts of paying a bribe to an agent of an organization receiving federal funds

Knowles also faces on additional charge of offering to pay a bribe to an agent of an organization receiving federal funds.

According to the indictment, Knowles and Whitby -- as executive director of Macon Promise Neighborhood (MPN) -- bribed former Bibb Schools Superintendent Romain Dallemand with $100,000 to support the school district selecting the MPN for a 10-year, $10 million deal. It also states that Whitby offered Dallemand $100,000 every year for 10 years for his continued support of the MPN.

Dallemand pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return that failed to report a $100,000 payment that was meant to influence him.

Whitby also allegedly suggested creating a company through which to route the money that would be paid to Dallemand in order to hide it. In the meantime, they allegedly used Knowles as a middleman.

The minimum sentence for a bribe conspiracy is five years while the minimum sentence for substantive bribery is 10 years. Meanwhile, money laundering conspiracy carries a penalty of 20 years and a maximum fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater.

Whitby resigned from his Industrial Authority position in Aug. 2017.

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