HARDEMAN, Co. - A private investigator was arrested after she says she began investigating allegations of misconduct by elected officials in Bolivar and Hardeman County.
Amelia Carlson was arrested by Hardeman County Sheriff’s deputies on Jan. 25, and charged with stalking Bolivar City Councilman Jonathan Joy.
“I think they were afraid of what I already found out and they were probably afraid of what it was going to lead to,” Carlson told FOX13. “I believe there’s a lot more to this. I think that was the reason and way to try and stop me.”
County officials told FOX13 Carlson isn’t telling the full story, and claim her accusations of misconduct are baseless.
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Court records explain why Joy reported Carlson to law enforcement.
“Joy stated that Carlson went to the court house in Hardeman County and pulled public records about him, which Joy stated was fine,” the deputy wrote in the narrative detailing Carlson’s arrest. “But then she started following him and taking pictures of his pickup truck and his license plate.”
The city councilman’s small business, Joy’s Heating Air, was awarded at least three Hardeman County contracts collectively worth nearly $15,000, according to county records obtained by FOX13.
Carlson said she believes the stalking charge is unfounded, because she was hired as a private investigator to look into Joy and his controversial contracts with the County.
Carlson doesn’t believe an elected official should profit from projects paid by taxpayers in his community.
“City Councilman Joy is an elected official,” Carlson said. “You have the county doing business with elected officials rather than opening that up to business owners.”
Joy’s company was hired by the county to repair heating and air conditioning units at the Hardeman County Airport, the Hardeman County Health Department, and the Hardeman County Archives building, according to public records.
Joy accepted between $4,500 to $4,950 from the Hardeman County government for each of the three jobs, totaling nearly $15,000.
Charles Cary is the Hardeman County Attorney, who said the law allows the transactions.
“There’s no conflict between a city councilman being awarded a contract by Hardeman County,” Cary said. “There would be a conflict if he were a county commissioner, but he is not.”
Generally when government agencies needs contractors to complete various projects and repairs, they publish the job in the local paper or other platform, and give businesses in the community an opportunity to submit bids.
Cary said the jobs Joy accepted did not require that process.
“You don’t have to bid anything unless it’s $10,000 or more,” Cary said. “There’s no conflict.”
FOX13’s Kristin Leigh went to the business address listed on the county contract. The business location is a home in a neighborhood in Bolivar.
A family member inside the home told FOX13 Joy was not home. Less than five minutes later Bolivar Police arrived.
While police checked on the house Monday, Joy called FOX13’s Kristin Leigh, returning her message from earlier in the day.
Joy did not want the recorded conversation to be used for air. He said he was not shown favoritism when he was awarded the county contracts.
Cary said he wants to know who hired Carlson to investigate public officials, suggesting that local politics are motivating her work.
“I wish I knew what was driving the train, but I don’t,” Cary said. “I don’t now where all this is coming from, but there have been no violations of the county contracting provisions.”
Carlson said she can’t identify the client who hired her, because she believes the county will retaliate against the person who asked her to investigate the public officials.
“I was given a specific task to do a certain investigation,” Carlson said. “That’s all I can say.”
Carlson wanted to interview with FOX13 to clear her name after her recent arrest, and to explain what she considers to be a quest for the truth.
“I just think someone has to take a stand,” Carlson said. “The ‘good ole boy’ system, the buddy network and politics is not what you’re put in office to do. The people put you in office to treat us fairly.”
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