DeKalb settles lawsuit brought by former watershed director

DeKalb County recently settled a whistleblower lawsuit brought in 2018 by its former watershed director, who accused top county leaders of mismanagement and corruption.

DeKalb commissioners approved last week a proposed payment of $40,000 in exchange for Scott Towler dropping his suit and agreeing not to pursue further claims.

Towler’s attorneys did not respond to requests for comment.

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Towler filed his lawsuit in July 2018, several months after he resigned from his position over the Department of Watershed Management with a scathing letter that accused county leadership of encouraging him to "violate the law and participate in unlawful activities in the operation of DWM."

The lawsuit made similar claims.

It suggested that multi-million dollar contracts were approved without going through the bidding process; that new developments were approved for connections to the sewer system even though there wasn’t enough capacity; that unqualified people were allowed to sign off on new sewer connections in violation of a consent decree negotiated with state and federal regulators; and that taxpayer money was misspent at now-former CEO Lee May’s behest.

Towler also accused current DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond and other high-level county officials of stripping him of duties when he became critical of how the consent decree — which orders DeKalb to address widespread sewage spills — was being handled.

In a statement issued after the filing of the lawsuit, DeKalb officials described Towler as “a disgruntled former employee that has made an ongoing series of slanderous, baseless accusations against county leadership.”

Towler also faced an internal investigation prior to his resignation, accused of collecting a monthly vehicle allowance for about a year while also using a county car.

Towler reportedly agreed to pay back the more than $5,000 he collected.