Whistleblower lawsuit against Fulton DA claims misuse of funds

A former employee of the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office has filed a whistleblower lawsuit, saying she was wrongfully terminated for uncovering misused funds.

Amanda Timpson sued Fulton DA Fani Willis on Monday, according to records from the Fulton County Superior Court. In addition to the allegations of misappropriated grant funds, Timpson says one of Willis’ subordinates racially discriminated against her for having a natural hair style.

A spokesman for the DA’s office gave the following comment about the unproven allegations: “This employee was a holdover from the prior administration. Management attempted to find a role she could fill, but was unsuccessful after transferring within the office three times. All of her supervisors found her performance to be inadequate. Her failure to meet the standards of the new administration led to her termination. We have not been served with the lawsuit and will not comment further except in court.”

Timpson’s attorney, David Betts, did not respond to a request for comment.

Willis already has a lot on her plate: Her office is chasing down reluctant witnesses in the most notable non-federal investigation into former President Donald Trump while still keeping an eye on the local issues of a massive court backlog and over-crowded jail.

Timpson worked at the DA’s office from December 2018 to January 2022, which means Timpson started under six-time incumbent Paul Howard whom Willis ousted in 2020 with 70% of the vote.

Timpson began as director of gang prevention and intervention. In that role, she authored the 2020 Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Program and Gang Prevention Grant. Problems began, according to the lawsuit, at a March 2021 meeting about how to use the grant money that included chief deputy director of programs Michael Cuffee.

Folks at the meeting agreed that they’d like to purchase 24 Mac devices for a computer lab, per the lawsuit. But Timpson told them that would be “tantamount to misappropriation of funds.” Cuffee said he’d talk to Willis because he knew “her vision.”

The lawsuit alleges that the harder she pushed back against the idea, the harder Cuffee stonewalled grant dollars. He then put her on a performance review plan.

At the meeting for her performance review plan, per the lawsuit, Cuffee displayed “ethnic and racial animus toward Ms. Timpson’s natural hair style that is well groomed and professional by saying her hair was unprofessional, elementary and came across as unclean and unkempt; Cuffee had also insinuated that Ms. Timpson had gang tattoos” despite the suit saying she did not have gang tattoos. The filing says they never met again about her performance review plan.

Cuffee then moved Timpson to another program, where, the lawsuit states, Timpson also found financial mismanagement. A requirement of the program is that only students who lived in Fulton and attended Atlanta Public Schools qualified, but the suit said Timpson found participants who lived in Wisconsin and Florida.

When she told Cuffee, the lawsuit says: “Cuffee responded by just staring at Ms. Timpson and walked away.”

Colleagues later that day told Timpson that Cuffee was saying: “I am going to fire that (expletive)” and “she’s outta here” along with “I already got a temp to replace her.”

Timpson contacted Cuffee’s boss, who, according to the lawsuit, had no idea that Timpson was on a performance review plan despite his name being on the paperwork.

Upon finding out about the review plan, Cuffee’s boss texted Timpson: “Wow. Make me a physical copy. This is a problem.” Thirteen minutes later, Timpson was told she had a meeting later that day with Willis.

According to the lawsuit, that meeting lasted five minutes and Willis demoted Timpson to a file clerk.

Timpson then hired an attorney and informed the DA’s office that she was going to blow the whistle, per the suit. Timpson was fired soon after.

She is now seeking money for her pain and suffering along with lost earnings.

A hearing for this case has not been scheduled, according to the Superior Court’s website.

Credit: WSBTV Videos

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