Clarkston councilwoman accused of stealing $50K from community center

by: Kerry Kavanaugh Updated:

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CLARKSTON, Ga. - Clarkston Mayor Emanuel Ranson told Channel 2 Action News that the city is taking no action against indicted City Councilwoman Joan Swaney.

"We will respect the process of the investigation, and Joan Swaney and her family are in our thoughts and prayers," Ranson told Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh.

The city learned Thursday Swaney is accused of stealing more than $50,000 from the Clarkston Community Center where she served as officer manager for six years.

"Not speaking as the mayor, but speaking as a friend, I'm not going to desert my friends in time of turmoil and trouble like this," Ranson said.

"It's always painful to find out people are stealing from the little guys," said center director McKenzie Wren.

Wren said the "little guys" include the children who come to the Clarkston Community Center to learn and grow. The center offers dozens of programs serving a broad range of people from children to refugees.

"We serve them through education, through a food security initiative, through recreational and cultural events and we do it on a shoe string budget," Wren said.

An internal audit revealed that budget was short thousands from family vacations, to medical bills, to car repairs, even a personal boat charter.

An indictment said Swaney wrote a series of checks from the community center coffers to pay for personal expenses.

Kavanaugh called Swaney and went to her home for comment. So far, she has not received a response.

"It's always painful to find out things are not what they appear," Wren said.

Wren said the center has come back stronger and it continues to strengthen its people.

Ranson sent Channel 2 Action News his full statement about the incident. It said:

"The first time we learned of this indictment was reading about it in the AJC yesterday afternoon. It comes as a surprise to us all. We had regarded Joan Swaney as an integral part of our City Council particularly at a time when we continue to make great strides as a city and as a community. We will respect the process of the investigation. Joan and her family are in our thoughts and prayers."