I assume that most of my Savannah readers already know something about the apparent improprieties discovered in audits of the Chatham County coroner’s office.
Dr. James Metts recently resigned — just weeks after re-election in November — and his wife took the unusual step of sending Chatham County officials two checks to cover $141,000 in questionable expenses.
But there were other questionable expenses, and the GBI is apparently investigating. The news has gone considerably broader today with the publication of Russ Bynum’s AP story, which is linked on the AJC homepage right now: Savannah coroner of 40 years exits under suspicion
Metts cited only his advancing age and personal reasons for his exit, but it was later revealed that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was called in after county auditors questioned at least $141,000 in payments for a secretary Metts didn’t have and what appeared to be personal expenses for property taxes, auto insurance and cellphone bills. The GBI’s findings will go to local prosecutors, who will decide if Metts should face criminal charges.
“We were flabbergasted,” said Dr. Julia Mikell, a Savannah neurologist who has known Metts for 32 years. “It’s just a lot of money and I was surprised that would be something he would do… He’s very close to the police. That’s why it’s all so stunning.”
There’s obviously a broader question here for Chatham County officials: Shouldn’t periodic audits be conducted of every department?