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City of Cumming called before federal grand jury
Subpoenas seek records for mayor, two others
city

Previous articles

* Cumming seeks state AG’s review of impeachment case.

* Cumming’s response sends state AG to sidelines.

* Panel questions officials in impeachment case.

* Insurance flap draws attention of FBI.

 

 

Timeline

The following is a timeline of the city of Cumming’s impeachment and insurance controversy:

 

Dec 19 — The Forsyth County News reports that Cumming Councilman Rupert Sexton could be facing impeachment after a list of city employees’ insurance information appeared on social media. The list purportedly shows that City Attorney Dana Miles and Mayor H. Ford Gravitt’s girlfriend, Angie Mullinax, are receiving insurance.

 

Dec. 22 — At a special called meeting, the city council votes 4-1, with Sexton opposed, to move forward with the impeachment process. It appoints an investigatory panel consisting of City Attorney Dana Miles, Steve Page and former Forsyth County Commissioner Patrick Bell.

 

Dec. 24 — Georgia Assistant Attorney General Kelly Campanella sends a letter to Miles asking him to respond to allegations from Sexton that an illegal city meeting had occurred Dec. 16.

 

Jan. 8 — City Administrator Gerald Blackburn confirms that he and Phil Higgins, the city’s personnel director, and had been interviewed by an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding the insurance situation of Miles and Mullinax.

 

Jan. 13 — At a meeting of the investigatory panel, Gravitt, Higgins and Councilmen Ralph Perry and Lewis Ledbetter are questioned. Higgins said he provided the insurance list to Sexton. The mayor and councilmen said they received a copy, but hadn’t distributed it.

 

Jan. 18 — In a letter to Sexton, Campanella said the attorney general’s office would no longer be looking into the possible meeting violation, due to a “a scenario of dueling factual accounts” between Sexton and Miles, who reported that an illegal meeting never happened.

 

-- Kelly Whitmire

CUMMING — Less than a month after a visit from an FBI agent, the city of Cumming has been called to answer questions before a federal grand jury in Atlanta.

According to documents obtained through an open records request filed with the city, federal investigators have asked for information regarding Mayor H. Ford Gravitt, City Attorney Dana Miles and Angie Mullinax, the mayor’s longtime girlfriend.

Issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the three subpoenas were addressed to Phil Higgins, the city’s human resources manager.

Reached last week, Higgins deferred comment to attorney Karen Woodward of the law firm Cruser and Mitchell in Atlanta.

Woodward would say only that the firm was handling the matter, since Miles was named, and that the city intended to comply with the request.

Officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia declined to comment on the situation.

According to the documents, Higgins is scheduled to testify before the grand jury on Feb. 10.

There was a separate subpoena for Gravitt, Miles and Mullinax. In each, the court requested copies of all checks dating back to January 2010, personnel files and lists of government properties issued, such as keys access cards, vehicles computers and credit cards.

As Cumming’s ongoing impeachment probe against longtime Councilman Rupert Sexton has centered on a list of city employees’ personal insurance and financial information, the subpoenas also request several insurance-related documents.

The mayor has accused Sexton, alongside whom he has served since 1971, of releasing the information in retaliation for not being able to secure lifetime city health benefits for his wife.

The city’s position is that the list should not have been released. Sexton has denied leaking it, but maintains the information was a matter of public record and not as personal as others have portrayed it.

The list, which surfaced on social media in December, reportedly shows that Miles, who is not an employee, and Mullinax, whose employment is disputed, receive insurance coverage through the city.

For his part, Miles has said his official role as city attorney qualifies him for coverage under the Georgia Municipal Association, or GMA.

For Miles and Mullinax, the subpoenas also ask for any records of the payment of health or dental benefits, any policy requirements to receive health or dental insurance through the city and benefit enrollment forms and applications with GMA, which provides the city’s insurance.

Also for Mullinax and Miles, the documents require any policies or eligibility requirements to receive health insurance and any correspondence between the city and GMA regarding the two.

In addition to insurance, the court asks for employment applications and any contracts awarded to either Mullinax or Miles.

The subpoenas also ask for all travel-related expenses submitted by Mullinax and all correspondences between the city and Mullinax dating back to Jan. 1, 2008, and require the city to disclose any contracts awarded to Miles’ law firm, Miles, Patterson, Hansford and Tallant.

The subpoena for documents tied to the mayor request several items on insurance, including a copy of the city’s employment benefits policy and qualifications to receive benefits, and a list of all employees receiving health and dental benefits dating back to 2010.

Unrelated to insurance, the subpoena involving the mayor also requests all records of donations to the Carolyn Gravitt Memorial Scholarship Fund.

The fund, named in honor of the mayor’s late wife, lists Mullinax as its secretary and chief financial officer.

Also sought are all records related to the leasing of property at 251 Ingram Ave.

A check of city and county maps last week revealed there is no such address, although several maps show a nearby property previously listed as 251 Mason St.

That site, which is immediately adjacent to an entrance of the Mason Street Parking Facility, lists Gravitt as owner, according to county records.