September 12, 2016
Bill Eddins, State Attorney for the First Judicial Circuit, announced today that Patsy D. Blackshear, the former Planning Director for the Walton County Planning Department, entered a plea as charged to Perjury in an Official Proceeding and Perjury in an Unofficial Proceeding.
There was no plea agreement, and the Office of State Attorney recommended an Adjudication of Guilt and a year in the Walton County Jail. Circuit Judge Ross Goodman withheld adjudication of guilt and sentenced Blackshear to five years of probation and the ability to terminate her supervision after two and a half years if there are no violations of probation.
The charges arose from an investigation into the Walton County Planning Department conducted by the Office of State Attorney and the Walton County Sheriff’s Office, which was later referred to the Grand Jury in and for Walton County. The investigation began in early 2015 when an employee discovered a 2008 memorandum reflecting that in 2005, the recreation fee for Lakeside at Blue Mountain Beach was calculated to be $614.25 instead of $614,250. The investigation by the Office of State Attorney and the Sheriff’s Office led to the discovery of a second 2008 memorandum, which pertained to Endless Summer, reflecting the recreation fee for that project in 2006 being calculated as $20,560.25 instead of $205,560.25.
Blackshear denied knowing anything about the miscalculations or the resulting memos. Multiple witnesses within the Planning Department, however, indicated that not only did Blackshear learn of the Lakeside miscalculation, she also directed employees to take various actions in response to the discovery.
During the plea hearing, Blackshear indicated to the Court that “the statements [she] made to the Office of State Attorney and to the Grand Jury were inaccurate.” When questioned as to whether she reported the recreation fee miscalculations to her supervisors or to the County Commissioners, she indicated that she did not. Her only explanation was that the Planning Department was so busy and hectic at the time that it fell through the cracks.
The Office of State Attorney is pleased that the Grand Jury’s indictment was prosecuted successfully and wishes to thank the members of the Grand Jury for their service to the citizens of Walton County. Their investigation, findings, and recommendations demonstrate that they approached their work with the utmost care and consideration, and their service is to be commended.