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Sheriff's investigator resigns
Internal Affairs looked into fraud allegations
SHERIFF LOGO W

A Bulloch County sheriff's investigator under suspension has resigned following the conclusion of an Internal Affairs investigation into allegations that he misused funds as executor of an estate.

Kent D. Munsey, who was an investigator with the Statesboro-Bulloch County Crime Suppression Team, resigned Tuesday afternoon within a 24-hour deadline he was given Monday to respond to findings of the Internal Affairs query. Munsey met with Bulloch County Sheriff Lynn Anderson, Chief Deputy Jared Akins and others involved in the investigation on Monday afternoon. No details of that meeting were made available.

Munsey was the defendant in a civil suit filed June 30, 2015, by Ami M. Howell, now known as Ami Lienhard. She was represented by local attorney Michael Classens. Munsey was represented by Statesboro attorney Matt Hube, who could not be reached for comment.

The civil suit was settled in Lienhard's favor in October.

Classens said both parties came to an agreement in the court of Bulloch County State Court Judge Gary Mikell. The agreement requires Munsey to transfer property - a lake house in Hancock County - and $35,000 in cash to Lienhard.

Lienhard is an investigations secretary with the Bulloch County Sheriff's Office. Munsey was executor of the estate of her late father, Delmar R. Howell III, who died in February 2012. Lienhard was the sole beneficiary of Howell's estate.

The civil suit alleged that Munsey talked Lienhard into allowing him to deposit $335,110 from seven life insurance policies into a BB&T account. The account was not a trust account and did not list Lienhard as a signatory or as having anything to do with the account, according to the lawsuit complaint, which accused Munsey of "fraud and breach of fiduciary duty."

The suit stated that Munsey convinced Lienhard to sign over death benefits to the BB&T account that was solely in his name. The only way she could access money in the account was to ask Munsey, the suit alleged.

He also refused to provide Lienhard information about the estate or account, in spite of several attempts to learn about the status of her father's estate, according to the complaint.


The lake house

Without Lienhard's permission or knowledge, Munsey reportedly wrote a check from the account in August 2012 for $5,000 as "earnest money" for a deposit toward the purchase of a lake house in Sparta, Georgia.

In September 2012, he wrote a check for $134,720, made to cash, from the BB&T account, money that the lawsuit stated was partly used to buy the house.

He and a third party bought the house for $292,848, and Munsey allegedly paid the closing costs on the third party's loan with money from the BB&T account. He also gave the third party money from the account to pay for other expenses, the lawsuit alleged.

The lake house deed did not list Lienhard as a co-owner. The suit stated that Munsey promised to pay Lienhard for her third of the ownership of the house, but he never did.

The settlement in October resulted in Lienhard taking partial ownership of the house, with the third party remaining a co-owner. Munsey signed over his share of the lake house to Lienhard, Classens said.

Munsey, months before the civil suit was filed, also reportedly offered to build Lienhard a house "at cost" in Bulloch County, but he wrote checks from the account assumedly for the expenses, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit also stated that Munsey wrote numerous checks from the account to vendors and laborers and used some of the money for his own benefit.

He told Lienhard that he had deposited his own money into the account, but that was false, according to the lawsuit.

The legal complaint alleged that Munsey promised to invest Lienhard's money and look after it for her, but he instead "comingled it with his own assets and business entities" and used funds for his own personal benefit without Lienhard's permission.

"Defendant Munsey carried out his improper and unlawful use and handling of plaintiff's funds in a deceptive manner so as to conceal from (her) the fact he was acting in violation of his fiduciary duties and for his own personal gain," the complaint read.

Lienard discovered the misuse of funds in January 2015.

Munsey reportedly gave Lienard inaccurate information when she demanded "accurate and strict accounting" of her estate and the life insurance funds, and the civil suit alleged that he committed several counts of theft by conversion when he wrote checks on the account that were for his own benefit.

Lienhard sought to recover at least $176,207, the suit stated.


Investigation ongoing

Chief Deputy Akins confirmed that Munsey was suspended last week after the Internal Affairs investigation began.

"We received a complaint, Internal Affairs investigated, which is concluded, and he resigned," Akins said Tuesday.

A meeting between Munsey, Akins and Sheriff Anderson took place Monday, but details of the meeting and ongoing investigation were unavailable.

The Statesboro Herald has submitted an open records request for personnel records involving the Internal Affairs findings and subsequent terms of Munsey's resignation.

"This is a personnel matter" and little can be said about it at this time, Akins said.

Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

 

 

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