Former employees warned about McDuffie's history

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Former employees with Columbia's parks and rec department told WACH FOX News they warned city officials about Damon McDuffie's criminal past.

A federal indictment against McDuffie accuses him of accepting kickbacks between October 2006 and January 2010 in exchange for granting work on behalf of the city's parks and recreation division.

Former employee Lee Carroll said, "my main concern was Damon McDuffie because they were giving him credit cards and social security numbers and things like that, and he had keys to the building, the city building."

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Carroll signed up to speak to council about it in September 2006.

"In reference to guys with criminal records that work with the city...I was concerned about that because they were putting those guys in park divisions and city divisions and those guys would be working with kids," Carroll elaborated.

He brought up concerns to council again in 2008.

Former employee Shonda Sweat said, "I have been working tirelessly for almost three years to get all this information."

She wrote the Attorney General's office in January. She did not name McDuffie, but asked for investigations into illegal practices and dealings with contractors happening in the city.

"As taxpayers it is our job to know where and who and how our money is being utilized," she said.

Carroll and Sweat do not know why the city hired McDuffie.

"It's not like this man hasn't had embezzlement and grand larceny charges for the past 10 years...I mean come on," Sweat said.

Now, they want to see their public officials held accountable.

"I am a taxpayer and I just hate when I see wrong especially wrong when people are making sure they have personal gain," Carroll said.

Assistant City Manager Allison Baker told WACH FOX News he is confident in the integrity of the city's hiring process.

McDuffie could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the two counts he faces. The prosecution is also seeking the forfeiture of $15,000 from McDuffie.