After years of investigations and court proceedings the RICO case involving Floyd County Schools and nearly a dozen defendants who stole millions of dollars came to a close on Monday with guilty pleas for those involved. According to Floyd County District Attorney Leigh Patterson nearly $6 million in stolen funds have been recovered.  Patterson said that with the guilty pleas on Monday the court brings to a close a case that could have taken until 2022 to try with the recent delays of the justice system.


First up was who authorities called the “mastermind”, Derry Richardson, who worked as the school’s maintenance director.  He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in prison to be followed by 20 years of probation.


Richardson created numerous fake and inflated invoices though the school system with numerous businesses in order to gain personal finances. His attorney, Amanda Clark Palmer, said that Richardson has been cooperating with police since early in the investigation and has shown a lot of regret for his actions.  The lighter sentence of the other defendants come from him taking full responsibility for what occurred.  He will be working with authorities over the next few weeks to determine how much restitution he will pay. Then on August 10 he will report to begin his prison sentence.


The other defendants in the case; Dwayne Richardson, Jimmy Richardson, Lisa Richardson, Rodney Holder, Charles Sherman, Russell Burkhalter, Sam Tucker and Harry Bailey all also entered negotiated pleas Monday.

Rodney Holder was sentenced to 10 years of probation and a fine.


Dewayne Richardson was sentenced to 10 years, two to serve in home confinement, and a fine.


Jimmy Richardson was also sentenced to 10 years, two in home confinement.


Lisa Richardson received 10 years of probation plus restitution.


Charles Sherman received a 10-year sentence with one year to serve in home confinement and restitution.


Samuel Tucker was sentenced to 20 years probation and must pay restitution.


David Fielder, who had previously pleaded guilty, will serve 10 years on probation.

Harry Bailey was sentenced to seven years probation.

Russell Burkhalter was sentenced to 20 years, three to serve in home confinement.  Burkhalter will also have to pay restitution.


Every one of the defendants, minus Derry Richardson,  were allowed to place their plea under the First Offender Act.


A hearing for Robert Watson will be held at a later date due to current medical difficulties. His attorney advised the court that he intends to plead guilty.


The charges against Sam Sprewell and David English were dropped. However, Sprewell has agreed to present a statement concerning ethics violations and permanently surrender his educational credentials.


English has already paid back money for work not done. His attorney said that English’s company, Southeastern Security Professionals, is ready and willing to do the work they had been paid for. He went on to state that his client has always maintained and will always maintain his complete innocence.

Part of the plea negotiations included a stipulation that all the defendants would withdraw from pending appeals and waive future appeals.


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Ten individuals have been arrested and charged with stealing funds from Floyd County Schools.  School Superintendant Dr. John Jackson said, “Floyd County Schools appreciates our partnership with participating law enforcement agencies as we work to ensure the most effective use of all education resources for the children of our community. We have had open cooperation with the investigative agencies and we are thankful for their efforts.  “

Jackson added, “For the school system, we are recovering from the trauma that has been inflicted on the system and the community through this ordeal.  New procedures and processes are in place to improve protection of funds entrusted to educate children and those new procedures are working.  However, we understand that it is vital that the system is vigilant in continuous reviews of purchasing procedures.  Remaining ever watchful over education funding is the key to ensuring that maximum resources are available in the classroom for the benefit of our children.”

Arrested were:
Former Floyd County Schools Maintenance Director Derry Richardson, 41, who is charged with violation of the Georgia RICO act, theft by taking government property and a violation of Georgia’s records and reports of currency transaction laws.
Richardson’s wife, Lisa Michelle Richardson, 45, who is charged with violation of the Georgia RICO act, theft by taking government property and a violation of Georgia’s records and reports of currency transaction laws.
Richardson’s father, Jimmy Richardson, 72, is charged with violation of the Georgia RICO act, theft by taking government property and a violation of Georgia’s records and reports of currency transaction laws.
Richardson’s brother, Dwayne Lee Richardson, 49,  is charged with violation of the Georgia RICO act, theft by taking government property and a violation of Georgia’s records and reports of currency transaction laws.

Also charged are:
Robert Mitchell Anderson, 49, who is charged with violation of the Georgia RICO act, theft by taking government property and a violation of Georgia’s records and reports of currency transaction laws.
Russell David Burkhalter, 59, who is charged with violation of the Georgia RICO act, theft by taking government property and a violation of Georgia’s records and reports of currency transaction laws.
Samuel Max Tucker, 64, is charged with violation of the Georgia RICO act, theft by taking government property and a violation of Georgia’s records and reports of currency transaction laws.
Harry Anthony Bailey, 69, is charged with violation of the Georgia RICO act, theft by taking government property and a violation of Georgia’s records and reports of currency transaction laws.
Robert Chad Watson, 39 is charged with violation of the Georgia RICO act, theft by taking government property and a violation of Georgia’s records and reports of currency transaction laws.
William Greg McCary, 56, is charged with violation of the Georgia RICO act, theft by taking government property and a violation of Georgia’s records and reports of currency transaction laws.
The suspects are to have stolen over $3 million dollars from the school system dating back to 2005.
Authorities seized property pictured below, plus $437,832. In total $1.7 million in cash and assets were seized by the Floyd County Police Department.

Investigators said payments were made for construction materials that were never actually purchased and work that was never performed. They added that inflated invoices were also created with numerous appliances paid for by school funds being placed at Richardson’s Summerville home.

Additional arrest are pending.