Councilwoman accused of embezzling from community center

6:57 PM, Oct 18, 2013   |    comments
Joan Swaney is a Clarkston city councilwoman
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CLARKSTON, GA-- Its backers say the Clarkston Community Center is a gem in a largely low-income city -- a place that showcases art and educational opportunities with a very small budget.

"Fnding is always very tight. We are a small community center," said MacKenzie Wren, executive director. "We have a diverse portfolio of funding but we run on a shoestring and always have."

For nine years, the office manager was Joan Swaney -- the wife of one of Clarkston's former mayors, and a woman who became a city hall fixture herself when she won a city council seat. But a federal indictment says that for two years, Swaney quietly embezzled $50,000 from the community center she helped to run.

It says Swaney forged the signature of the community center's director on checks, and deposited the checks into her personal account. We were unable to reach Swaney for comment

Emanuel Ransom is the mayor of Clarkston, a founder of the center and he says, a personal friend of the city councilwoman now accused of ten counts of bank fraud.

"This (facility) is my baby. This facility was built under my leadership," said Ransom. "It's devastating. But like I said, as far as I'm concerned, she's innocent until she's proven guilty. It's just that simple."

The indictment could end councilwoman Swaney's political career, with the governor appointing a panel to decide on her removal from office. But she's already made that decision. Her term expires in January, and she's already chosen not to run for reelection next month.

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