Buie released from jail

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- Former downtown manager Don Buie left the Dougherty County Jail for the first time as a free man Wednesday, exactly six months after pleading guilty to fraud in connection with an investigation into the operations and handling of the downtown manager's office and the Albany Dougherty Inner City Authority.

At 8:08 a.m., Buie was officially released from the jail facility on Evelyn Avenue where he had been housed since entering his guilty plea and being lead out of the Dougherty County Courthouse on December 23.

Jail Administrator Col. John Ostrander said Wednesday that Buie was an inmate that rarely, if ever, strayed from the most direct path that would lead him outside of the jail walls.

"He really was a good inmate, but then again, he had a lot at stake," Ostrander said. "He knew that any disciplinary problems would keep him in longer so he made sure not to rock the boat while he was here."

Ostrander said that, in many ways, Buie was a "model inmate," saying that he was one who took advantage of every program and opportunity they offered to cut his time behind bars down.

And cut down that time he did.

By being that model inmate, Buie was able shave a total of 117 days off his sentence, including 44 days he earned for being on a work detail, Ostrander said.

While in jail, Buie was assigned to a moderate security work detail, which confined him to the jail facility proper. Ostrander says he performed housekeeping duties, cleaned bathrooms and performed other needs around the jail.

While Buie was the only person named in the investigation to get jail time, he's far from the only person who is paying.

Former ADICA board member Lajuanna Woods continues to make monthly payments to ADICA after reaching an agreement with District Attorney Greg Edwards to repay a $50,000 facade grant Buie had granted her in exchange for avoiding an indictment.

Currently owing $15,000, Woods is on schedule to have paid all of her obligation back by August.

Former Dollar Square owner Tim Washington has struggled to find work and make his payments, according to ADICA officials, although he has managed to close the payment gap and be only one-and-a-half payments behind his mutually agreed-upon agreement of $500 per month.

Shannon Lee, Buie's estranged wife, was allowed to return to her home out-of-state but ordered to pay restitution to ADICA.

The scandal also indirectly reshaped the face of ADICA itself, prompting city manager Alfred Lott to put Assistant City Manager James Taylor in as interim downtown manager.

Taylor was accepted by the ADICA board as their interim executive director until a permanent replacement could be found.

Board Chair Jane Willson ended her two-decade long service on the board not long after Buie's plea. Willson, nor board member James Griffin, who also retired after more than 15 years on the board, had any involvement in the investigation.

Since Buie's plea, local attorney Bob Kraselsky, insurance executive David Prisant and business owner Gloria Thompson have joined the board. Former Vice-Chair Andrew Reid now runs the board as chairman.

Buie, who has been banished from Dougherty County, will have an limited period of time to leave the county. He has also been ordered to pay restitution to ADICA and can never serve in local government.