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DA refers Hall County investigation to outside agency
Board of Commissioners had asked Darragh to look into payments made to consultant
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Hall County District Attorney Lee Darragh will step aside for an investigation of the Hall County Board of Commissioners.

The board voted March 11 to ask Darragh to investigate consulting payments made by Chairman Tom Oliver to Carlyle Cox’s company, Omega Consulting.

On Friday, Darragh sent a letter to Richard A. Malone, executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia, asking him to conduct the investigation.

The Prosecuting Attorney’s Council of Georgia is an association of district attorneys and solicitors general that occasionally provide legal counsel.

"Though I am both qualified and capable of making the impartial decisions concerning the matters referred to above, the Hall County Commission controls a substantial percentage of my budget as the district attorney for the Northeastern Judicial Circuit," Darragh wrote in the letter. "Though I would decide impartially, ethically it is important for me to avoid even the appearance of impropriety."

Darragh asked Malone to take over the investigation because of his "substantial experience as a prosecutor, former district attorney and executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia."

Oliver announced last month that the county had been paying Cox, a Hall County library board member and former Gainesville city manager, since 2006 for consulting services, specifically on water and sewer projects.

An open records request by The Times showed Cox had received $75,000 since February 2006, but had produced no correspondence or reports.

In addition to the investigation, the commission also voted to conduct a financial audit of all five commissioners, current County Administrator Charley Nix and former administrator Jim Shuler.

Malone was on furlough Friday and unavailable to comment. Darragh would not comment further on the matter.

Darragh letter
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