UPDATE: Ethics Watchdog Inquiry Concerns Tom Witts and Back Taxes

An ethics group will conduct a press conference regarding Tom Witts, Judge Mark Layng and state taxes allegedly owed. Witts responses to the complaint.

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.

George Anderson June 06, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Elected official, Dave Emanuel, should not be acting mean-spirited toward citizens of Snellville. He is supposed to have demeaned himself(lowered himself) to serve the citizens of Snellville. Why is he acting like the SWILs he, evidently, despises?! This response is written by Ethics Watchdog, George Anderson, who is not receiving a dime to investigate unethical officials in Gwinnett County. District Attorney Danny Porter took my documentation regarding corrupt Gwinnett County Commissioner Kevin Kenerly back in 2008/2009 to the Grand Jury,
Michelle Couch June 07, 2012 at 11:55 AM
I was at the council meeting with Mayor Pro Tem Witts disclosed this matter. He has worked out a payment schedule with the Government to pay taxes owed. He's making payments - WHO'S NOT!!! It's NOT tax evasion! I'm not sure who swore Mayor Pro Tem into office, but if it was Judge Layng, that is likely why Layng has been named in Anderson's complaint. This is YET ANOTHER sad spectacle in Snellville's history at the hands of individuals who claim to care about the City. My best advice to those individuals is to grow up and actually behave like you care about the City!
Snellville Tod June 07, 2012 at 07:35 PM
So, George Anderson is saying George Anderson investigates “unethical” Gwinnett officials for free. Does that mean he only charges to investigate the ethical ones like Councilman Witts? Interesting how Mr. Anderson tries to tie Councilman Witts to Keven Kenerly. I have seen Mr. Anderson’s activities used for political purposes in the past. My recollection is it cost $250 to have him file an ethics complaint. I wonder how much one has to pay to have the full boat treatment including a press conference?
Kenneth Stepp June 09, 2012 at 08:42 PM
This is ridiculous. Mr Witts is a man of integrity. That is what everyone knows about him. And George Anderson, not so much. He dedicates his life to attacking people. In this case the wrong person. He can say he's not being paid to do it but I don't believe the people are going to buy his trash. Head high Mr Witts. This guy is just a tool for those that couldn't find anything wrong. I guess as long as he's this far from home he thinks he can make this stuff up without us questioning his motives. If Tom Witts has a payment plan with the state it really isn't anyone's business. Not a violation of his oath, and not a violation of any law. Tom Witts never hid anything. This was public records. Go back home Anderson. You're not needed here.
George Anderson July 10, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Witts is no more a man of integrity than I am making $4,000.00 a month filing ethics complaints. I have not made any money from my endeavors, yet, people such as Kenneth lie to the public with made up/creative lies. I am camped out at City of Snellville with my investigation going full tilt. If I able to report ethics in Snellville, I will do so. However, It is Ethics in Government Groups Inc.'s belief that corruption abounds involving Harrell Britt, Dave Emanuel, Tom Witts, and Mark Layng. EIGG has the documentation to prove my allegations to be accurate. George Anderson EIGG Executive Director


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