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Demoted DOT treasurer Mahfuz announces retirement
Earl Mahfuz, the Georgia DOT’s top numbers guy until state investigators found evidence of financial shenanigans, has retired effective today.
Mahfuz has been at the center of an accounting controversy since state overseers in 2008 found huge budget shortages at the Department of Transportation. The agency’s financial practices, later described by Gov. Sonny Perdue as “Enron accounting,” allowed it to sign multi-year contracts for work that it hadn’t set the money aside to pay for, the state auditor said.
Last summer, Georgia Inspector General Elizabeth Archer concluded Mahfuz deliberately kept $153 million of contracts off the books in 2008 so DOT would appear to have more money than it did.
Based on the collective testimony of those interviewed, we find that former GDOT Treasurer Earl Mahfuz, abused his authority when he instructed his staff to stop entering contracts into PeopleSoft in June 2008. As GDOT Treasurer, he should have known the ramifications of giving such a directive and the impact it would have in the subsequent fiscal year. We find that the timing of his request, the fact that it was contrary to established procedures, and that he was placed on notice to inform the auditors of additional matters that could impact the deficit, suggests a purposeful intent to hide the true state of GDOT’s finances.
Attorney General Thurbert Baker’s office asked the GBI in January to investigate whether Mahfuz told his staff not to record the contracts or whether he lied to investigators about it.
DOT demoted Mahfuz to assistant treasurer in 2008. DOT Commissioner Vance Smith released this statement today on Mahfuz’s departure:
After more than 30 years of dedicated service to the Georgia Department of Transportation, Earl Mahfuz has announced his retirement, effective today. When I became Commissioner of the Department last June, one of my priorities was to restart our program of partnering with the private sector on vital transportation improvements for Georgia. I asked Earl to take on that challenge and the results have been spectacular. In only nine months, his leadership, focus and determination have resulted in a P3 program today that has multiple active projects and already is recognized as a national model. I am very proud of that, and very proud of Earl. On behalf of everyone at Georgia DOT, I want to thank him and wish Earl a most enjoyable and well-earned retirement.