The Georgia Secretary of State's Office confirmed it is investigating former mayoral candidate Olivia Holmes Ware, whose case was under review by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to see if criminal charges should be brought.
A spokesperson with the Secretary of State's office confirmed that it received information from the GBI and has an open case on Ware.
City Manager Tony Lucas said the city had received word Wednesday afternoon that the GBI had reached out to the SOS, which has a division that investigates election issues.
City Attorney Mike Waldrop said the SOS would conduct its own investigation. "They'll come to their own independent conclusion." If they recommend criminal charges, the matter would be referred to the District Attorney's office. If it is decided criminal charges are not needed, the matter might be referred to the state Attorney General's office or other office, said Waldrop.
Ware was disqualified Sept. 25 after an administrative hearing that reviewed several addresses that Ware appeared to hold within the last year. Mayoral candidates are required to be a registered voter in the city and have lived in the city for at least a year. The addresses appeared to conflict with each other and were given on signed and sworn affidavits for Rockdale and Newton County courts and agencies. Lying on a sworn affidavit can carry a felony charge.
After the hearing but before she was disqualified, Ware had filed a civil lawsuit against the city. The city in turn filed a counter lawsuit against her. Ware then dropped her lawsuit, writing "I humbly apologize for any inconvenience that it nay [sic] have cause [sic] the City of Conyers."
During that time, the city racked up $10,000 in attorney's fees and expenses relating to investigation of Ware's case.
The information in the case was turned over to the GBI. "It seemed more appropriate to take a step back, let an impartial agency take a fresh look at it," to determine whether there were criminal charges to prosecute, said City Attorney Mike Waldrop in a previous interview.
Waldrop said he and the city's Chief Operating Officer, David Spann, were interviewed by the GBI last week.
Earlier, Waldrop had pointed out that the city would not be able to recover its $10,000 costs even if the civil lawsuit had continued.
If criminal charges were prosecuted to conviction, the city could potentially be reimbursed through restitution.
Ware's name will still appear on ballots for the city of Conyers election, since the ballots were already prepared for absentee voting by the time the disqualification decision was made by the city elections supervisor. But voters will be notified that she is a disqualified candidate and votes for Ware will not be counted.
Early in-person voting started Monday, Oct. 14, and will run until Nov. 1 at 1400 Parker Road. City residents will see the Conyers mayoral race (which is at large) and may see a city council District 1 and District 2 Post 1 races on their ballots (depending on where they live). All voters in Rockdale and Conyers will see the ESPLOST, or education penny sales tax referendum, question on their ballot.
The mayoral candidates are Kathy Harvey, incumbent Mayor Randy Mills, and Michael Thomas Zanetti.
Incumbent Councilmen Cleveland Stroud (District 1) and Chris Bowen (District 2 Post 1) are running unopposed.