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WAS IT THEFT? City employee pockets $1,100 from selling airport’s scrap metal

By   /   August 12, 2010  /   Comments

ANOTHER COVER-UP: CITY MANAGER HIDES FACTS BY WITHHOLDING PUBLIC RECORDS

By Kevin Hogencamp

An Albany airport is the target of a closely kept police investigation for cashing in on scrap metal left behind from a recently completed airfield lighting and signage project.

In an interview Tuesday with The Albany Journal, Operations Manager Sean Reddish says he did not realize he was doing anything wrong when he made 11 trips in July from Southwest Georgia Regional Airport to a recycling center in a city vehicle, pocketing about $1,100.

That’s because, he said, the contractor gave him the scrap metal – a claim the contractor supports. Additionally, Reddish says that while working off the clock at the airport, he disassembled the old signage, saving the airport thousands of dollars by salvaging lights and circuit boards that were replaced with new signage by TCA Electrical Contractors of Omega, Ga.

Albany police also are attempting to determine whether Yvette Aehle, the airport director, committed a crime or violated city policy by giving Reddish permission to profit from scrap materials, a claim levied by a former airport worker that Aehle and Reddish steadfastly deny.

“I was told last week that it’s been reported that you are selling scrap materials, and I said, ‘Yes, I have been,’” Reddish said. “Obviously, there’s a gray area and the city policy was violated. I expect to take some licks and keep moving. But I have not stolen anything …

“The contractor gave me stuff that belonged to him. It was going to be hauled off and dumped. It was the common sense thing to do.”

In a letter to the city sent because of the theft investigation, TCA’s Marty Bennett said he gave Reddish the old signs because transporting and salvaging them wouldn’t have been troublesome.

“The signs became TCA’s property upon removal from their base,” Bennett said. “I, as acting agent of TCA, personally gave them to Sean Reddish to dispose of as he sees fit. At no time, that I am aware of, did Sean Reddish steal or sell for personal gain any airport property. When he sold the aluminum from those signs, it was his to sell, not the airport’s.

Still, Albany detectives are attempting to determine whether Reddish’s actions were criminal violations. An Albany law, meanwhile, requires employees who receive gifts to report the gifts to the city Board of Ethics or its designee and to “have the gift added to the inventory of property of the city.” Violating the ethics law is punishable by disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Meanwhile, recently fired airport employee David Bradford said Tuesday in an interview with the Journal  that Aehle told Reddish, Bradford and others that they were welcome to profit from selling the airport’s scrap metal at an Albany recycling center. Aehle and Reddish say that Bradford is mistaken, but that Aehle did give permission to the employees to cash in on a small amount of metal that had been at the airport for years – “enough for maybe an employee pizza party,” Aehle said.

Aehle and Reddish said that Reddish did not take Aehle up on her offer, however, and that Bradford had no knowledge of the metal TCA left behind because Bradford was fired in March.

Bradford’s complaints to city officials spawned the probe. Meanwhile, Bradford has filed a federal discrimination and hostile-workplace complaint against Reddish and the city.

Reddish says that he readily identified himself at the recycling center as an airport worker, and was wearing his work uniform, which signifies that he didn’t take the scrap metal under a shroud of city. He says that if he is required to do so, he will pay the city the money he made from the scrap metal sales. An airport employee since last fall, Reddish says he has not been shown documentation of a law or policy that he has broken.

Aehle says that she will require Reddish to give the city the money he was paid by the recycling center and that he will also be disciplined following the police investigation. But she, too, says she feels that Reddish is “guilty of poor judgment, but not a crime.”

Meanwhile, Lott and Albany police refused to answer the Journal’s questions regarding the probe on Tuesday and denied the Journal access to any public records associated with the case, including Reddish’s statement to police. Lott’s decision to withhold public records means that he is committing a crime – a violation of Georgia’s open records act — to cover up details of an alleged crime.

Despite being the subject of a public theft probe, Reddish remains on the job with full security clearance. Recently at the airport, the facility’s deputy director was immediately suspended from his duties upon being arrested and charged with stealing clothes from an Albany retailer. He was later fired.

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  • Published: 1536 days ago on August 12, 2010
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  • Last Modified: August 11, 2010 @ 5:05 am
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Comments

  1. Miguel says:

    Morgan, man you seem to be full of yourself. I look at myself as cocky sometimes, but I cannot say that I am 100% right about anything. Scarp metal is big business, but many people choose not to bother because it is a lot of work to get it dismantled and loaded. if the stuff was given to Reddish, then whats the fuss about. It sounds to me like someone didn’t know a rule at the time and someone who didn’t know how to keep their mouth shut. I can’t belive this is about $1100. If it were $11,000, then I could see an issue. But I understand that this money is being paid back to the city. Mr. Mason does bring up valid points, but I think they are misguided. Becuase Reddish happens to be white, he must be racist because he fired a black guy. I have a problem with that thinking as well. Does Reddish work with other black individuals? Has he fired them too? probably not. I agree with Morgan that all facts must be evaluated before passing judgement on something like race. I despise ignorance as well. Mr. Mason, I’m sorry, but you do seem ignorant and one sided about this. Personally, I question any statement made by fired employees. They are often disgruntled and desperate to gain sympathy. I am black and I have never been fired from a job and all of my bosses have been white. I have good relationships with them because I do what is asked of me. that is not to say that there are bosses that I have not liked.

  2. Morgan says:

    Mr. Mason, are you kidding or just ignorant? How could you possibly know that Reddish fired a man because he was black. Are he probably had him fired because he was lazy and incompetent like many people around Albany. I am not from here, but I see a lot of stupid and ignorant thnking processes here. Everything is about race and that is the excuse people have for their misfortune. Morgan is 100% right. I see people sitting kitchen appliances out by the road frequently. if someone loads it on to their truck, does that make them criminals? Your ignorance is astounding Mr. Mason. Stop looking at color and look at personal responsibility. If Reddish was in the wrong, then he will face the music, but stop trying to push race when you do not know all the facts.

  3. Perry Mason says:

    Morgan, Morgan, Morgan, The last time I checked, trash had no value. Scrap metal, yes. How long has Reddish been on the job? not long I assume. The last Operation and Maintenance Manager knew not to take the scrap metal and now you’re telling me Reddish wasn’t bright enough to know that. Scrap metal is big business. Reddish knew it as well as everyone else. Reddish saw an opportunity to make some fast money without anyone knowing and took advantage of it. Unfortunately it was the wrong decision as does many of us make. And to make this a race issue is obvious. How many black offenders are arrested and make the news versus the white offenders. Of course this is racially fueled. Reddish fired the other employee because he was black and Reddish is innocent because he is white. God Bless America!! Better yet, God bless Albany, GA the land of the…..you fill in the blank.

  4. Jimmy says:

    and man is inoccent until proven guilty! this looks like a weak case to me. they are trying to fast track him and the canoe theifs got it easy. why did police wait to put this man in jail on friday night so he couldnot get out fast like canoe guy/ these folks are dirty!

  5. Jimmy says:

    people already screaming this guy is guilty because there was investigations and arrest. He has rights to due process as much as the next man black or white. some dude is pist because he was fired. so he wants to get even. looks that way and airport dude dont appear to be hiding anything. he came clean and thought the stuff is his. maybe his report should be looked at but it dont mean he said the gospel. he got motivations to get back at airport but dont look like airport dude was trying to do wrong!

  6. Morgan says:

    Mr. Perry Mason,

    Where did you come from? Last time I checked, scrap metal is trash. A smart person salvages it. Have you ever thrown away a refrigerator, a stove, duct work from under your home, or a broken air conditioning unit. Salvage yard pay well for such items. Don’t say things and don’t have anything to back it up. I have worked for companies where I was told to discard such items. AND GUESS WHAT; ITS NOT A CRIME TO RECYCLE. Reddish even agreed to repay the money back to the airport. Doesn’t sound like a convict to me. You may want to pay more attention to people like Charlie Rangle and Maxine Waters who have stolen millions of dollars and are not going to spend one day in jail. Yeah, they may lose their positions, but will not be incarcerated. Ooh does that make me a racist because they just happen to be black. I seem to remember people such as Tom Delay, Randy Cunningham, and Bill Frist who were dirty. WOW. These guys are white. Oops…I guess the race card doesn’t work here. Stop trying to make it a race thing. If the fired individual were white, really, would this be happening? Wake up and smell what you are shoveling!!!

  7. Pizza? says:

    Was that $1100 worth of pizza good? How many people did it feed? Pizza party? Sounds fishy to me!

  8. Free work for City says:

    Well yes,someone profited,the city of Albany,they did not have to pay someone to take and haul the stuff away.Plus they got the money from it.And since they locked him up,they{The City) will be getting money from fines when he goes to court i am sure.It s wrong,but true.You cant fight City Hall,they know all the loopholes.

  9. Nino says:

    It’s funny how so many people have made this out of a race issue. What? if you’re black and you get fired, you deserve it and if your white and steal government property you’re innocent? Wow! What plantation do you own? What color is your hooded sheet? Why can’t justice be color blind? Retaliation, I think not! How does a contractor who bids on a project get to grease the project managers hand and get away with it? That is if he owned the material, that was paid for with tax payer and federal dollars (is that possible?) (what about city surplus???). Or how does the offender save the airport thousands of dollars if the material wasn’t the airports property to dismantle? The bigger questions is how does a Reddish think it was alright to make 11 trips to the recycling center, after his work hours or during work hours, in a city vehicle, wearing a city uniform. Hmmmmm….You got to be as smart as a box of rocks to believe any of his or his directors story…..I think the contractor should be banned from any future projects on top of everything else. Thank you and I’m done!

  10. Ruin a good man? says:

    Atrocious and ridiculous. Ruin a man’s life because a black employee was fired for not doing his job? That’s it in a nutshell.

  11. Anyone Else? says:

    Did any of the other employees get to profit from this? If this was right, was anyone else able to get $1100? Do we have proof this money is being turned back in-(as mentioned in a previous comment)? Retaliation? Really? Do you think the police would entertain such a petty accusation? Apparently the man did something wrong and illegal…or he wouldn’t have been charged.

  12. Where's The Justice says:

    You know all this is getting old.If our so called Officals would just take some lie det. test.Alot could be cleared up.Instead they keep hiding things.Now this man is in jail?I would like to know why the women who took things from my Moms house is not in jail?Becuase she is part of there lieiing team.Unlike with this guy,i had a police report stating and Officla took things from My moms.And they have not done anything.And AL,you know you were wrong there.You all do.Why do you do people like this.?Because you can get away with it.And MR. Edwards,i better see my case come back to court before you even think about taking this man to court.And no sir,that is not a threat.But all this is bull crap.People of Albany,make our Officlas answer Questions.It is the Law.And they are breaking the Law.So Mr. Edwards,why do we not see any of them going to jail?Charges brought against them?I could not even get the police,Al,the mayor,city commision,county commision,anyone to bring charges against the one who done my Mom wrong.And that was for more than $1000.00.And still not charges.Hell you all will not even talk to me.Scared,say Scared.

  13. [...] 5 Comments 12 August 2010 ANOTHER COVER-UP: CITY MANAGER HIDES FACTS BY WITHHOLDING PUBLIC RECORDS [...]

  14. Angelica says:

    If the guy told the dude he could have the signs and they were his to give…then what is the problem? Why don’t the powers that be concentrate on the homeless and joblessness in Albany instead of wasting taxpayers time and money with crap nobody cares about?

  15. It Was Retaliation says:

    Carl, you are correct. It was a retaliation of the said fired employee and his buddies that have made other attacks of retribution against Reddish and other airport employees. It was known that the fired guy was stirring this up before the manager was confronted and there has been a lot of false or inaccurate information put out there. The city/airport got a good return because over $20k worth of parts were set aside to be reutilized for future repairs. This stuff was going to be trashed otherwise at the airport. How is that theft? Reddish did this on his time and made $1100; not much compared to the spares given to the airport. It’s being repayed to the city anyway. They got free labor and $1100. The airport got free parts and Reddish is getting smeared for it.

  16. Carl says:

    How did the fired employee even know about this? Sounds like inside information was passed along to him. I smell a rat. Sounds like retaliation me because the manager happens to have the wrong skin color.

  17. Where' the Justice says:

    Yeah All,what is theft?Its ok if you officlas do it.You can get away with it,with all your good gun toting knife carring lawyers.Or the real expensive ones who tries to go after the only thing a daughter has left of her Mother that died in 2007.Yeah it s me again.See i dont go away.And you have not won anything with me.If you all are so honest,and you know who i am talking to.As i said before,i will pay for the lie det. test,and piss Test.For everyone of you who were involved in my Moms case.Now that was theft from an Offical,and you know i have the police report saying so.So whos lieing there?And that was over 4 thousand dollars,not to mention an offical and i use the term ligtley,getting on TV telling lies,that i have proof were lies that means( SLANDER}And if you Officlas have so much faith in your people,why did your insurance Co. send me a letter saying they would be working my claim against that Offical?COUGHT YA!Now Tell another one.3 yeras i have been waiting to but my Mom to rest.And i have not even seen my case come back up.Why?Cause you know you were wrong for one,and the other,is becuase i have put everything my Mom owned up to fight back.They are just things.They dont matter.My Mom and my repatation does.You all think you have me fooled,trying to wait for staute of limatations to run out?If it Does,and this is a promise,not a threat,you can bet your sweet butts,there will be higher ups here in Albany to really take a good look at all of you.I can admit when i am wrong,can you? Mr. Edwards,please get my case to court. 3 years is long enough for me to suffer.I would really like to put my Mom to rest,knowing i done right by her.And by the way,My Mother loved me with all her heart and soul.That is something money cant buy.And for the TV stations that let this person get on TV,and say that my Mom did not love me,when you could have stoped before it got to that point.I hope you are around when the truth comes out.Just remember the word SLANDER.

  18. Truth B Known says:

    And it just goes on.Funny i read in another paper that Al Lott told That he had done Albany good.He brought in so much money.Ok,Lott,is Ms. Woods paying back the money she took,is Buie,and how about you?You are going to take money that Albany taxpayers pay,NOT THE CITY,when you do leave.And you can even set up the time you are gona leave.So i guess my Question is,if there is 20 thousand in the bank that you help get there,where di it all come from.
    You never answer the Journal Questions,Why.?You know good and well you have done Albany a dis service.You LIE,just like all the other good ole boys(and this includes the women who follow the men in the City and any Officials of Albany).I always say good ole boys,becuase you follow them what ever they say.Why?The days of walking behind men are over.So when all of them go down,dont think they will not take you with them.Now as far as this person getting money for scrap,that he was told he could have.They said if they broke any laws they would give it back.That proves 2 things,#1 They are willing to give it ti you all in the City,and what will you do with it?That will be the same thing as you taking it.What is the diffrence? Well it was given to him.The Company who did the job would have to haul it away.That saved them some money.And if he did nt haul it,the City would have to.and what would that have cost in man hours,11 trips,,and cost of gas.And not to say that they worked there butts off to get that.Which is more than i can say about any of you Officlas.You just sit around and get your pay.So now you are going to take this money from him? Whats the diffrence in him profiting from it and you all?I hate the double standards here in Albany. Lott’s decision to withhold public records means that he is committing a crime – a violation of Georgia’s open records act — to cover up details of an alleged crime.So Lott,when are you gona go to jail?You sure have done enough to be there.And you try to fool the people of Albany by giving an interview to a paper who does a good job backing up you Govt. Officlas.YOU ARE NOT FOOLING ANYONE.You all are a bunch of greedy people who want the people of Albany to bow down to you.So how much money have you collected from Artur Williams? And how about the Mayor,he uses our money to have a driver drive him around town.He wanted the job,he should have thought about all that before he even ran.And oh yeah,i remember you Lott parking in a hanicap parking place a while back,you only got a warnning.Had it been me,i would be paying a fine.But you are Special.You talked about all the good you have done for Albany,what about the bad?And you know you have done some very wrong things.I hope that people you have hurt come back at you for Slander.I still see a yellow streak going down your back.And you know what that means. And by the way,thats not slander,that is the honest truth nothing but the truth,so help me God.But you are not the only one,everyone that allows you to hold your position has the same thing,why are they scared of you?What do you have on them?Same Goes For Nathan,at one time you were saying he was unstable,then you flip floped.Whats he got on you.One more thing,the more you bring up Lamot s doins,the more you stick your foot in your mouth.I can see you being here till 2011,but maybe behind bars?We have some good Officlas here,i ask you,Please,STAND UP FOR ALBANY,YOU LL FIND OUT THEY WILL STAND UP FOR YOU.

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Owner / Editor / Writer

Tom Knighton is the publisher of The Albany Journal. In November, 2011, he became the first blogger to take over a newspaper anywhere in the world. In August of 2012, he made the difficult decision to take the Journal out of print circulation and become an online news agency, a first for the Albany area.

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