A Rome-based watchdog group plans a Friday press conference regarding alleged back taxes and ethics violations concerning Councilman Tom Witts and Snellville's Chief Municipal Court Judge Mark Layng.
Witts is the mayor pro tem , and Layng also is a Magistrate Court judge in Gwinnett County.
Ethics and Government Group, led by George Anderson, says that the complaint concerns, in part, more than $28,000 owed in state income taxes.
In an interview Wednesday afternoon, Witts said that, yes, he does owe taxes, but that he is being diligent in paying the state of Georgia back. In addition, he said that it has already been disclosed in public at a City of Snellville meeting.
The issue dates back several years, he said, after his wife was laid off and the family needed to tap into 401K funds. The taxes on that are what needs to be paid back. The family has paid the federal government, but the state government payment is still pending, Witts said.
Witts said he did what he did in order to keep his business afloat. He had 13 employees at the time. And, yes, he said, he could have borrowed money from his business, but that would have put people out of work.
"I made a business decision that was good for my business and kept my people employed," he said. "And if that makes me a bad person, so be it."
Witts is the president and chief executive officer of Georgia Property Restoration, a disaster restoriation contractor that works on damage after tornadoes, floods and the like.
Witts said that he doesn't know why Layng is named in the complaint. Layng could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.
"I don’t know where that comes from," he said. "It's my bad debt. I just don’t get that."
According to the press release, the watchdog group also alleges:
- Violation of Oath of Office
- Violation of Georgia campaign finance laws
- Violation of the Judicial Canons of Ethics, which calls for judges to be professional, avoid impropriety, uphold the Constitution, among other tenents.
- Violation of the Code of Ethics For Government Service, O.C.G.A. 45-10-1, which states, among other things, that loyalty to country must be held in the highest regard
- Violations of the city of Snellville Code of Ethics for city officials
Early Wednesday morning, Snellville Patch reached out to Anderson -- the man issuing the complaint -- for documentation. By Wednesday afternoon, no documentation had been recieived.
Witts added that Anderson "makes a career out of" issuing complaints against public officials. And, said that he is not going to feel bad about what he did.Click here for a Creative Loafing story about Anderson.
According to the press release, the press conference will take place at 1 p.m., Friday, June 8, at Snellville City Hall. Wiits said he will be in attendance.
Snellville Patch will follow up on this issue, including attending the Friday press conference.