Stonecrest suing former city employees, management company

City of Stonecrest is suing its former municipal management company, former mayor Jason Lary, and several other defendants for a breach of contract and mismanagement of CARES Act funding, according to documents filed by the city attorney on Jan. 30.

City officials said that the alleged wrongdoings resulted in most of Stonecrest’s notable cityhood scandals, including the CARES Act investigations, procurement card misuse, the Metro Green Recycling litigation, and decreased values of city owned property.

According to the documents, city of Stonecrest is suing Group Inc.—formerly known as CH2M Hills Engineers, Inc. and Jacobs Municipal Research Partners Corporation (MRPC), among other names—and Collaborative Firm, LLC, Visit Us, Inc., Battleground Media, LLC, C-ROOMTV, LLC, Real Estate Management Consultants, LLC, Foxx Entertainment Services, Inc., Jason Lary, Plez Joyner, Clarence Boone, Lania Boone, Iris Settle, and Teena (Tee) Foxx.

Several of the companies involved—including Collaborative Firm and Battleground Media—were listed as shell companies used in Lary’s CARES Act funding kickback scheme which has landed prison sentences for Lary and Lania Boone. Clarence Boone is awaiting trial. According to court documents, the resident agent of those corporations has “resigned.”

Clarence Boone was a former economic development director for Stonecrest while Joyner was a project manager and a deputy city clerk. Settle and Foxx were contracted for communication and public relation roles with the city.

Stonecrest originally entered into the agreement with CH2M in 2017 with a contract stating what CH2M would provide the city. City officials allege that CH2M (and later Jacobs) breached the contract by staffing “the city with individuals who poorly performed at a service level less than the city bargained for in the agreement,” among other allegations.

“Lary, Joyner, and other CH2M (and later Jacobs) employees, provided little, if any, services to the city and rarely addressed issues facing the fledging City or responded to citizen complaints concerning the provision of City services,” the documents continued. “During the term of the agreement, Jacobs management received large cost-savings bonuses because Jacobs was not spending money budgeted in the agreement to provide the city with municipal services as required by the agreement.”

According to the documents, Stonecrest’s CARES Act committee was comprised of Joyner, Clarence Boone, and Settle. City officials allege that during disbursement of the CARES Act funds, Joyner and others either ignored the inquires or provided false and/or inadequate responses to city officials. Lary and Lania and Clarence Boone also orchestrated a kickback scheme with the funds.

City officials allege that Lary and Clarence Boone hid the fact that Lania Boone oversaw the disbursement from city council. Court documents state that:

“After a City Council meeting, Lary sent Clarence Boone a text message, stating, ‘Now that’s how you close!!! MRPC NEVER CAME UP!! No one thought [to] ask who was writing the [f***ing] checks!!!’ In response, Clarence Boone simply stated, ‘Yep!’”

The court documents detail several misuses of CARES Act funding by the defendants, several of whom were already convicted.

Other allegations in the court documents include: 978 reviewed procurement transactions that violated city policy, using CARES Act funding for personal gain, making hires not approved by city council, failing to assign and monitor knowledgeable, skilled, and certified employees/contractors to city positions or to provide municipal services, failure to collect city revenues, failure to maintain insurance on city parks and buildings, and purposefully withholding meeting notifications to “thwart City Council efforts.”

City officials also alleged that “Jacobs approved preliminary plats without mayor or council approval in violation of the city’s ordinances and provided legal verifications concerning the county’s solid waste management plan, resulting in the ongoing Metro Green litigation.”

The documents state that as Stonecrest officials began to discover Jacobs’ alleged failure to provide municipal services pursuant to the agreement and other alleged unlawful conduct, “Jacobs finally sought to extricate itself from Stonecrest.”

Stonecrest officials alleged that in March/April 2021, Jacobs leaders “instructed employees and contractors with the city to hold and preserve records,” and that “Jacobs officials were observed shredding unknown records related to conduct of Jacobs officials and/or the provision of services to the city.”

City officials added that Jacobs has refused to compensate the city for CARES Act funds and procurement card spending.

Stonecrest’s contract with Jacobs paid the contracting company $2,997,923.00 from 2018 through 2022 and $1,692,818.00 for a portion of 2017. City officials added that “Jacobs and CH2M willfully and wantonly failed to perform in accordance with then agreement.”

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