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Kendrick gets some jail time

By Beth Alston

ALBANY — Vernon Bernard Kendrick, former public works director for the City of Americus, was sentenced Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia Albany, ending a five-year-plus saga that began with a whistleblower, segueing into an FBI investigation, and later spinning off two lawsuits against the city.
Kendrick was ordered to serve 12 months and a day, and to pay restitution in the amount of $239,500.
The City of Americus received funds from Traveler’s Insurance in the amount of $270,500 ($271,000 less the City’s $1,000 deductible) which was related to the “misuse of funds claim involving former Public Works Director Bernard Kendrick.” The funds were to be returned to the City’s Storm Water Fund which is where the misused funds originated from, according to the city.
Following an FBI investigation of more than two and half years, Kendrick and his co-defendant, Lynne Melvin, were indicted in November 2015, on 10 counts each of theft from a local government receiving federal funds. They were both arrested shortly after being indicted by a federal grand jury.
Kendrick pleaded guilty to one count in January 2017 before Judge Leslie J. Abrahms iin U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia Albany Division.
In the plea agreement, Kendrick waived his right to a trial and appeal, and agreed to pay restitution as ordered by the Court. The remaining 10 counts against Kendrick were to be dismissed.
Kendrick had faced a maximum of 10 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, or both, and a term of supervised release of up to three years after his release from prison.
According to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia Albany Division, Melvin formed a corporation, Genesis Contracting & Consulting Services, LLC, on Sept. 15, 2010. On Sept. 15, 2010, Melvin formed another company, Genesis Grant Services, LLC.
Kendrick, in his role as public works director, had Melvin write grant applications for grants that never materialized. The City paid Genesis $271,500 — between September 2010, and September 2011 — to write the grants, according to the indictment.
Charges were ultimately dropped against Melvin.
The whistleblower, then city finance director, Suzanne Freeman, was ultimately fired for not handling the responsibilities of her office. She appealed and her job termination was upheld. In the meantime, then Americus Police Chief Mark Gerbino was forced to resign due to unprofessional behavior, specifically using obscene language. Gerbino believed he was fired because he sent the Kendrick investigation to the GBI and ultimately to the FBI. Later he and Freeman sued the city and that case was settled last summer. The amount the city of Americus paid to the two was not revealed.