By Joe Johnson
A former Georgia Board of Regents member was arrested Friday morning for racketeering and criminal attempt to commit theft by taking.
Clarence Dean Alford, 66, turned himself in at the Rockdale County Jail one day after authorities obtained warrants charging him with racketeering and attempted theft, according to Katie Byrd, communications director for state Attorney General Chris Carr.
The Board of Regents is the body that oversees the University System of Georgia. In addition to serving on that board, Alford, a Republican, formerly represented Georgia’s 4th Congressional District.
The warrants resulted from a joint investigation between the attorney general’s office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and officials said that Alford resigned as a regent immediately after the warrants were issued on Thursday.
"Acts of fraud and corruption have no place in Georgia’s state government,” Carr said in a prepared statement. “Those who are trusted to be public servants must discharge their duties ethically and honestly, and when they do not, this office and our law enforcement partners will hold them accountable.”
Alford is alleged to have exploited a common industry practice referred to in the financial services sector as “factoring.” Factoring is a transaction in which a business may sell its accounts receivable to a third party at a discount.
The racketeering charge alleges that Alford transmitted fraudulent documents to Versant Funding LLC fir the purposes of deceiving the company into believing that he had legitimate purchase agreements and accounts receivable with various entities. It is alleged that Alford was attempting to sell such accounts receivable to Versant in exchange for $1,798,327.06.
The criminal attempt to commit theft by taking charge alleges that Alford created a fraudulent invoice acknowledgement form, dated September 24, 2019, to submit to Versant. The document is alleged to have falsely asserted that the University of Georgia would pay Versant $487,982.88 to satisfy a debt owed to Alford’s own Rockdale-based company, Allied Energy Services, LLC. It is also alleged that the document was forged using a university employee’s signature. It is also alleged that the actions were n attempt by Alford to obtain payments from Versant.
“This illustrates that fraud and corruption at any level will not be tolerated in Georgia,” GBI Director Vic Reynolds said.
“GBI’s partnership with prosecutors and other law enforcement agencies is essential to continued public trust. Our agency is committed to holding violators accountable,” he said.
The joint investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the attorney general’s office is active and ongoing, with the University System of Georgia and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement assisting.