Two more suspects accused of conspiring to steal nearly $1-million from Kennesaw State University surrendered this week to Cobb authorities, and one of them is from Mableton.
Don Ameche Thomas turned himself in Monday at the Cobb County Adult Detention Center, where he was booked on a charge of conspiracy to defraud the state, according to online jail records. Ramon Langford Morgan of Detroit surrendered on Tuesday, records show.
All but two of the six suspects in the alleged crime ring accused of defrauding the state of nearly $1-million have been booked into the Cobb County Jail.
Lionel Montel Elder of Atlanta turned himself in on Friday, said Nancy Bodiford, the spokeswoman for the Cobb County Sheriff's Office. Elder's surrender came just one day after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Kennesaw State Police Department arrested Gerald Donaldson, the university's former executive director of environmental health and safety, at his Mableton home.
Warrants are still active for the two remaining suspects, Joseph Eto of Stone Mountain and Julius Babatunde Ogunshola of Union City. Like the others, Eto and Ogunshola each face a charge of conspiracy to defraud the state. Kennesaw State is a subdivision of the state.
All of the men were acquaintances either through personal and/or business relationships, GBI spokesman John Bankhead said.
Between June 1, 2002 and July 1, 2012, they allegedly arranged payments from Kennesaw State to shell companies that never performed environmental work at the university or performed the work at a price that was intentionally overpriced so that a kickback payment could be made to Donaldson, records show.
The companies were owned by alleged members of the crime ring, identified in warrants as Thomas, Morgan and others. The companies included Shane Environmental, Orion Environmental, Holbridge Environmental and Jay Mills Environmental.
In Cobb County criminal warrants, authorities allege that "an overt act was committed by (Donaldson), Don Thomas and Ramon Morgan and others in that more than $750,000 in payments was made by KSU and paid to said shell companies for work that was not performed."
Thomas allegedly accepted payments of more than $95,938; Morgan, more than $221,050; Eto, more than $201,888; and Ogunshola, more than $67,538.
Elder, records show, assisted "in arranging payments in the amount of more than $221,050."
The case, which was eventually referred to the Georgia Attorney General's Office, started when Kennesaw State employees reported to university officials their concerns about unusual invoices submitted for payment. The invoices normally had been reviewed by Donaldson, an employee of Kennesaw State since February 2001.
He was terminated on Oct. 5, 2012 after a university audit revealed the fraud, which extended beyond Kennesaw State to include private organizations and additional individuals outside of the university system.
Donaldson allegedly was responsible for approving the fraudulent contracts and for verifying that the work was completed as specified, Kennesaw State said in a statement on Thursday.
He remains in the Cobb County Jail on a $750,000 bond. According to online jail records, Elder was released Saturday on a $125,000 bond; Thomas was released Tuesday on a $10,000 bond; and Morgan was released early this morning on a $200,000 bond.
"The investigation is continuing," the GBI's Bankhead said.
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