Recent theft and fraud charges in Statesboro aren’t the first time Waynesboro Mayor Gregory Antonio Carswell has been under scrutiny for questionable handling of money.
He was under fire a few months after his election in 2017 for misuse of city funds and property, according to WJBF News Channel 6.
Carswell, 39, was arrested in Statesboro on Monday after he turned himself in on identity theft and felony theft charges in connection to a case involving Check Into Cash, a loan and title-pawn business on South Zetterower Avenue, said Statesboro police Sgt. Patrick Harrelson.
Carswell was reportedly employed by Check Into Cash in Statesboro while simultaneously serving as mayor. While managers at the business would not comment, Harrelson said Carswell was fired from the business in February.
Police incident reports state a female victim notified police on July 13 that Carswell stole her identity and $11,920 cash. Reports indicate at least three additional victims, and Harrelson said further charges are pending the ongoing investigation.
In a statement Monday, Carswell claimed it is all a mistake. Neither he nor his attorney, Grady Blanchard, returned calls seeking comment last week, but WJBF gave details of the November 2017 incident in Waynesboro, when the Waynesboro City Council questioned Carswell about misusing city money, “with plans to send the actions to the FBI,” the station reported.
Carswell apparently misused city vehicles and a financial transaction card. He returned keys, the car and card, as well as $2,602.
He also took a $2,000 trip to Philadelphia under the guise of “bringing a kids’ fun center to Waynesboro” and miscellaneous personal trips, and paid for a visit by celebrity gospel singer Dottie Peoples, all amounting to an additional estimated $4,000. The council voted to allow Carswell to pay the money back, the news source reported.
Regarding his Statesboro charges, Carswell posted on his mayoral Facebook page Monday: “Today I went and voluntarily turned myself in on a warrant that was issued for me. At this point we are not sure of all the particulars but I’m not guilty and we will fight this. The charges insinuate that the alleged victim(s) identity has been comprised and my identity has been as well. We plan to work with authorities to address these issues and make sure that the persons responsible will be arrested and convicted. My attorney has instructed me to limit the scope of my conversation as this is an ongoing investigation and other questions can be addressed by him.”
Blanchard did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday.
According to a biography listed at www.waynesboroga.com, Carswell was elected as the youngest mayor and the first Black male mayor in the town’s history.
Past work history listed a stint as assistant manager at a Krispy Kreme, a pastor and an “award winning” photographer and gospel artist, but did not list employment with Check Into Cash.
After contacting Statesboro police Monday, Carswell was booked into the Bulloch County Jail on charges of two counts of felony theft by taking and two counts of identity fraud. He posted bond the same day.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.