Photo by Bill Strickland

Photo by Bill Strickland

Kickback funds from public money paid to an ADICA contractor were used by Albany former downtown manager Don Buie were used to make a personal car payment, prosecutors said this morning.

His defense attorney, Johnnie Graham, countered that Buie came to town with a vision that local officials were not prepared for and was under pressure to live up to expectations.

Buie's fraud trial opened this morning in Dougherty Superior Court. Assistant District Attorney Chris Cohilas, in opening statements to the jury, said that $2,246.50 that Buie got back from contractor Nicole Brown after she was paid with ADICA funds was used to make loan payments on a Volkswagen. Brown had said Buie told her he needed the money to make a child support payment.

Graham countered that the money he spent on his car payment was his personal funds and that he was the victim of a vengeful girlfriend -- Brown -- whose feelings were hurt when she found another woman at Buie's house.

Also, Superior Court Judge Denise Marshall has denied a motion by Buie's lawyer, Johnnie Graham, to exclude evidence of ethical misconduct from the jury.

Prosecutors served noticed earlier that if Buie testifies, they intend to bring up his 1995 felony conviction in federal court in Maryland.

Marshall also denied a request by prosecutors to order media covering the trial to turn off cameras when Brown testifies.

Buie is accused of using his office as downtown manager and CEO of the Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority to inappropriately distribute taxpayer dollars to his estranged wife, girlfriend and a local downtown business owner.

The other three co-defendants -- his estranged wife, Shanon Buie; Brown, an ADICA contractor and Buie's former girlfriend, and businessman Tim Washington -- have each pleaded guilty to their respective charges and agreed to testify in exchange for reduced sentences.

A fifth person who was under investigation, Lajuana Woods, agreed to repay a $50,000 facade grant and resign from the board of the Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority in exchange for prosecutors not seeking an indictment against her.

Details will be updated as developments merit.