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Former airport employee allegedly embezzled city funds

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

A former Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport employee is facing felony theft by taking charges in Clayton County for allegedly embezzling funds from the airport.

According to a Clayton County Magistrate Court arrest warrant, issued July 28, VanDyke Allen Walker, III, 42, of Riverdale, did allegedly take "cash from his employer, [the] City of Atlanta Department of Aviation."

Walker was arrested, held in the Clayton County Jail, and issued a $5,000 bond on July 30, according to court records.

An internal City of Atlanta investigation concluded that "there is sufficient evidence to establish that Department of Aviation employee, VanDyke Walker, embezzled at least $235,000 of city revenue for his own personal use through the falsification of documents under his control during the time period covering March 2009 back to April 2003."

The investigation was conducted by the compliance unit of the city's law department, according to an investigative report issued by the department on Aug. 13.

Walker, who worked as an accounts receivable specialist, was terminated from the job, according to a summary of the report, issued by Jeffrey Norman, compliance manager for the City of Atlanta Department of Law.

The Security Division of Atlanta's airport collects money from the sale of badges, fingerprinting, and vehicle permits, then, typically on the next business day, hands the funds over to an accounts-receivable specialist, according to the internal report.

Walker was "responsible for receiving cash and checks from the Security Division ... and preparing the deposit for Brinks pick-up," according to a Clayton County Magistrate Court application for a criminal arrest warrant, prepared by Detective Donald Hannah, of the Atlanta Police Department's Airport Division.

"The first question is, was any money taken?" said George Lawson, Walker's attorney, during a phone interview Thursday.

"They have sloppy bookkeeping over there [at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport], and they were advised of this in 2005 through 2009," said Lawson.

Lawson said Walker had advised his supervisors "that there was an absence of procedures, and he always received incorrect information and not enough money to match the deposits," Lawson said.

"For example, if they sent him a document saying there was $500 in cash, there was only $250 in cash," he said. "And there were no written procedures for how the accounting process should be carried out," Lawson said. "Mr. Walker contends that he is not guilty of anything," he said.

Airport spokesman John Kennedy declined to comment, except to confirm that Walker had been terminated.

Walker's case was bound over to Clayton County Superior Court on July 30, according to court records.

Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson said her office is reviewing the case. "It's with an investigator of mine, and we'll review it to present it to the grand jury for indictment," she said.

Staff Writer Maria Jose Subiria contributed to this report.