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Aug. 22 -Cliffard Whitby, head Georgia political consulting firm Positiventures, and others indicted for Public Corruption

Category: Georgia Business News

by Lou Phelps, Savannah Business Journal

August 22, 2017 - The United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, G. F. Peterman, III, announced last week that an indictment was unsealed charging the head of a leading Georgia political consulting firm, Positiventures Initiative, LLC of Macon, Georgia with bribery and money laundering.

Led by Cliffard Whitby, Congressman Sanford Bishop used his firm and one of the companies lead operatives, to run his 2014 re-election campaign. 

Indicted last week are:

- Cliffard Whitby, age 54, of Forsyth, Georgia.  Mr. Whitby was also Chairman of the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Development Authority. He has since tendered his resignation.  He is charged with:

    - Conspiracy to Pay a Bribe to an Agent of an Organization Receiving Federal Funds;

   - Five (5) Counts of Paying a Bribe to an Agent of an Organization Receiving Federal Funds; and

    - Conspiracy to Launder the Proceeds of Unlawful Activity

Also indicted was Harold Knowles, age 69, of Tallahassee, Florida, who was alleged to have attempted to influence voting over a major Bibb County school department contract. He is charged with:

    - Conspiracy to Pay a Bribe to an Agent of an Organization Receiving Federal Funds;

    - Paying a Bribe to an Agent of an Organization Receiving Federal Funds;

    - Offering to Pay a Bribe to an Agent of an Organization Receiving Federal Funds; and

    - Conspiracy to Launder the Proceeds of Unlawful Activity

And, the Central Georgia Partnership for Individual and Community Development in Macon, Georgia was named in the Justice Dept's indictment for 'Conspiracy to Launder the Proceeds of Unlawful Activity

Whitby's firm Positiventures Initiative, LLC, was named for 'Conspiracy to Launder the Proceeds of Unlawful Activity.

Mr. Whitby was arrested, and made his initial appearance in the United States District Court in Macon last week.

Mr. Knowles was arrested in Florida, and make his initial appearance in federal court in Florida last week, as well.

The statutory maximum sentence in federal prison authorized for the bribe conspiracy is five years, for the substantive bribery counts is ten years, and for the money laundering conspiracy is twenty years, according to the Justice Dept.

The money laundering conspiracy carries a maximum fine of $500,000.00 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater. The other charges carry a maximum possible fine of $250,000.00 each.

The indictment is only an allegation of criminal conduct. Each person is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Beth Howard and Danial Bennett are prosecuting the case for the Government with participation and cooperation of Special Assistant U.S. Attorney David McLaughlin from the Georgia Office of the Attorney General.

In a separate indictment, the former Superintendent of the Macon-Bibb County Public Schools was indictment and has pled guilty to filing a false tax return, tied to events of the major indictment. 

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