Firm says Fulton accusations have cost it business

Officials at a company accused of overbilling Fulton County say those allegations are hurting their business.

In an ongoing legal battle in federal court, Consilium Consulting of Roswell, which provided software licensing and support and other services, says former Information Technology Director Maurice Ficklin has made false statements that have made it hard to find new work. Ficklin says his statements about the company are true.

Ficklin filed a lawsuit in May in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, saying he lost his job for blowing the whistle on corruption in the IT Department. When he joined the department in July 2014, Ficklin says he found numerous problems, including improper relationships between IT managers and vendors and millions of dollars in payments to vendors in advance of services rendered, in violation of county policy.

Ficklin reported the problems to county officials and was later fired.

Consilium has filed a counterclaim in the lawsuit accusing the former IT manager of slander.

Two recent audits have confirmed many of Ficklin’s findings. Among other things, auditors found Consilium charged the county more than $125,000 for work that wasn’t done. Consilium has denied the allegation.

Auditors also said the department paid excessive salaries to some contracted employees and found one county employee supervised his former business partner. And they found the department violated purchasing rules and lacked procedures to properly monitor contracts.

The county and Consilium say Ficklin has no evidence to support his charges.

The counterclaim says Consilium lost its county contracts as a result of Ficklin’s “disparaging false statements” about the company. It also says the company and its CEO, Kwang Kim, have “been the subject of derogatory news articles that cast them in a false light. As a result of (Ficklin’s) statements, Consilium’s ability to acquire new work is diminished.”

In court filings, Ficklin says, because his statements are true, they can’t be the basis for a successful slander complaint.

In an interview Tuesday, Consilium attorney Michael Solis called Ficklin’s lawsuit “frivolous.”

“They cannot identify any specific wrong that my client did,” Solis said.

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