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Bond deals missing from Cobb Development Authority

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CUMBERLAND - Millions in bond transactions spanning decades executed by the Development Authority of Cobb County (DACC) lie undocumented after it was revealed that meeting minutes and financial reports of the DACC prior to July 1997 are missing.

"I have gone back and reviewed our Minute Books for 1997, and we only have documents for 1997 starting in July," wrote Nelson Geter, DACC Executive Director in recent correspondence related to this ongoing investigation, "any documents prior to July 1997 are not in our files."

Geter later clarified, "At this point, I have only been able to locate records back to July of 1997."

The missing documents cover the period of time during which GA Board of Regents member and Synovus Chairman/Chief Executive officer Kessel Stelling collaborated with controversial Cobb developer John Williams to purchase a financially troubled bank, create the Cumberland CID, and develop Cobb Chamber's leadership programs.

During this period, Cumberland CID chairman Tad Leithead served as chairman of the Cobb Chamber.

Williams now is Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Preferred Apartment Communities, a real estate investment trust (APTS-NYSE). Williams also is a part owner of the Atlanta Falcons.

Williams, Leithead and the DACC recently were the center of controversy after Williams (represented by Leithead) was granted tax abatements by the DACC board for a development located within the Cumberland CID. After the Cobb School Board protested the abatements, Williams withdrew.

Although local media has reported that it is illegal for the DACC to abate school board taxes, the DACC has abated over $8 million in school taxes since 2004.

Cobb commissioners were informed of the missing documents Wednesday, May 21 and have yet to comment.