Thursday, November 27, 2008

Former Clay Public Works director gets probation, no retirement benefits in illegal duping and grand theft case

Former Clay Public Works director gets probation, no retirement benefits in scandal
Posted: Wednesday, November 26th, 2008 at 11:26 am
The Times-Union

Former Public Works Director Arthur Ivey pleaded no contest this morning to grand theft and was sentenced to five years of probation in a plea agreement.

In a brief court hearing Wednesday, Ivey also waived his right to receive retirement benefits from his Clay County government service.

Ivey declined comment.

Prosecutor Stephen Siegel said he was “satisfied” with the outcome of the case, which stemmed from a 2005 illegal dumping scandal that engulfed the Public Works Department and Clay County government as a whole. Ivey and former County Manager Bob Wilson resigned under pressure, former Christy Fitzgerald was indicted on related charges and was acquitted.

“Arthur Ivey became the face of what was wrong in Clay County,” he said. “This county is so much better off.”

Retired Circuit Judge Richard O. Watson imposed the sentence, which was not part of the plea agreement. Watson could have sentenced Ivey to as much as five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Ivey, 53, was indicted in 2006 on theft and other charges stemming from a 2005 illegal dumping scandal. He resigned the public works post in April 2005, a month after state Department of Environmental Protection investigators found illegally dumped materials at several county operated dump sites.

Ivey faced four counts of official misconduct, four counts of grand theft, four counts of littering, two counts of violating state Department of Environmental Protection rules and six counts of petty

In a 19-month criminal investigation of county government, state and federal investigators raided two county supply pits and found evidence of illegal waste including timber and electronics. Illegal
materials were found dumped at five other sites, all of which Ivey controlled as director of public works.

Among the most egregious cases of illegal dumping was the placing of creosote-sprayed timbers from the dilapidated Shands Pier into Knowles Pit.

The first count of Ivey’s indictment addressed that dumping. A county audit at the same time questioned Fitzgerald on a variety of matters, including questions about county employees in Ivey’s department working at her property on and off duty. The work included sandbagging around her home during the hurricanes of 2004.

She was indicted on five counts of theft and one count of official misconduct and was acquitted in three trials. She was reinstated to the commission seat she had been forced to leave following the indictment. Her term was up in November.

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