The grand jury says Papaleoni wrote checks amounting to tens of thousands of dollars from the lake authority’s accounts to his corporate account for personal use, where he made back payments to the IRS, church offerings and payments to his wife, Angela Papaleoni.
The nine-count indictment was handed down Dec. 12.
The next step is for the Cobb Sheriff’s Department to arrest Papaleoni and book him into the county jail. That step will be followed by an arraignment hearing, where Papaleoni will enter a plea. A plea of innocent would move the case to the trial calendar of the Cobb Superior Court.
“Our goal is always to pursue and prosecute as fast as the system will allow us,” District Attorney Vic Reynolds said. “We intend for when the case is put on the trial calendar the state will be ready to go.”
Busy playing Santa
Papaleoni, who lives in Acworth, is available to perform as Santa Claus for private or corporate functions, according to his Facebook page, and that’s what he was getting ready to do when the MDJ reached him by phone on Monday.
“I really don’t have anything to say,” Papaleoni said. “What the grand jury has handed down is one thing, but I have not been served anything, and the Sheriff’s Department has agreed to wait until after the holiday because I do Santa, and that’s information you could really go to town with and crucify Santa, and that’s why I wanted everybody to hold off until after the holidays.”
Papaleoni cut the phone call short, saying he had to go perform.
“That’s what I’m doing right now,” he said. “Two minutes away from sitting in the chair. It comes out tomorrow and it will devastate about another 150 kids.”
A Monday note on Papaleoni’s Facebook page said “Tonight may be the last chance you have to get your ‘Photo with Santa’ at JDs Bar-B-Que on Main Street in Acworth from 6-8PM. Kids eat free (if they believe) and JDs is giving one FREE photo per Family.”
The Lake Allatoona Preservation Authority, which is governed by a nine-member board appointed by the commissions of Cobb, Cherokee and Bartow counties, was created by the Legislature in 1999 to protect the lake. Papaleoni was originally a board member until the board hired him as its general manager in the early 2000s.
In 2008, the board hired him under the name of a corporate entity he created, called Premier Management Team.
The indictment charges him with making numerous payments to himself and his corporation in excess of his board-approved salary between Jan. 1, 2007, and Dec. 31, 2009. He initially wrote checks to himself from the lake authority as general manager.
“However, he convinced the board to hire Premier Management Team as general manager instead,” the indictment says. “This added an additional layer of check writing to LAPA disbursements, thereby obscuring his fraud.”
Almost all of the Lake Allatoona Preservation Authority’s funding is supplied by state and local taxpayer revenues.
The indictment charges Papaleoni with writing checks from the lake authority’s accounts to himself, his corporation and his wife on 10 occasions —totaling $32,200 — without documenting those checks in the lake authority’s general ledger.
On another occasion, he paid his wife $4,200 from the lake authority funds when his wife performed no services, the indictment says.
He is accused of presenting profit and loss statements to the board that were inconsistent with the disbursements reflected in the lake authority’s general ledger. When the board hired the accounting firm of Moore & Cubbedge to review its finances, the indictment says Papaleoni withheld documents.
“Each act was part of an intentional effort on (the) accused to prevent the board from acquiring information pertinent to the disposition of LAPA’s money, thereby furthering his deception,” the indictment says. “In spite of his fiduciary obligations, accused used his position to enrich himself, his family and his associates, at the expense of LAPA.”
The lake authority’s board fired Papaleoni, who was 66 at the time, on Dec. 30, 2009.
The case was jointly investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Cobb Sheriff’s Department.