Fulton County police have arrested a central figure in an alleged theft of taxpayers' funds and an alleged cover-up by county officials.
Nicola Hosier, formerly a financial systems supervisor in Fulton County's human services agency, faces 15 counts of forgery and credit card theft. Hosier, 37, was being held Friday in the Fulton County jail on five counts of computer forgery, four counts of forgery in the first degree and six counts of unauthorized use of a credit card. She was arrested Thursday.
Further details of the charges were not immediately available Friday. An internal investigation by County Manager Zachary Williams' office last summer found $183,000 in unauthorized charges on Hosier's county-issued credit card, many of them benefiting a private event-planning business owned by Hosier and three co-workers.
Criminal charges filed Thursday do not encompass that entire amount, said Capt. Darryl Halbert, a police spokesman. Police could not immediately provide a precise figure for the alleged loss.
Halbert also could not say whether other arrests in the case would be forthcoming.
"We don’t have any suspects right now," he said. "I know [detectives] are still investigating."
Hosier, a 10-year county employee, had resigned effective Oct. 30, county spokesman Ericka Davis said. She said the three other employees remain on the county payroll.
News of the alleged theft surfaced in September when two county employees alleged they lost their jobs because they refused to suspend an administrative investigation of the charges. Williams demoted Maria Colon, an investigator in his office, and fired Deputy County Manager Gwen Warren in July, but he has said those actions were unrelated to the Hosier investigation.
Warren and Colon alleged Williams told them to delay their inquiry until after the 2010 election because of the political sensitivity of the case. Cheryl Estes, one of the owners of the event-planning business, traveled to Brazil in March with Fulton County Commissioner Nancy Boxill.
Republicans made a campaign issue of the County Commission's handling of the allegations. Steve Broadbent, who lost a bid Tuesday to unseat Commission Chairman John Eaves, questioned the timing of Thursday's arrest, which came two days after the general election.
"From Day One when this issue came out, Zachary Williams, the county manager, was quoted as telling the Office of Professional Standards that he wanted this thing put on hold until after the election," Broadbent said. "It’s just incredibly frustrating to us that Zachary Williams or somebody else in Fulton County government succeeded in their objective."
Halbert, the police spokesman, said the timing of Hosier's arrest was "purely coincidental."
"In any investigation, no one can determine how long it's going to take," he said.
An internal investigation last summer found Hosier had diverted $183,000 of county funds to benefit herself, her friends and a private event-planning and linen-rental business, Exquisite Events Atlanta LLC, that she owned with three co-workers. An investigator said Hosier covered her tracks by fabricating invoices for homeless shelter supplies.
Hosier charged linens, china, a banquet table and chairs on her county-issued credit card, Colon wrote. Walmart gift cards charged to the county were also used to purchase furniture, bedding, appliances, clothes, video games and champagne flutes that were delivered to Hosier and others at home.