Henry County officials say a youth football coach lied about his identity to hide his criminal record.
About seven years ago, Thomas Jones applied to coach the North Henry youth football program. He applied as Thomas Jones, using his brother's information, who has the same name.
Jones says he did it to hide his record as a convicted felon in Florida.
County leaders say they were unaware until recently.
"It is always concerning when someone falsifies a document," says Henry County Communications and Public Information Director Melissa Robinson.
According to the county, Jones coached for the North Henry Youth Football Association for about four years under his fake identity. He reapplied in 2015 using his real identity. When the county received the new application, with a new social security number, address, and birth date, they assumed he was a new person applying as a coach. Seeing his criminal background this time, they took steps to clear him for coaching kids.
"Henry County Parks and Rec took that to our solicitor general's office and police department to have that vetted," says Robinson. "The determination was made that the coach in question was eligible to work and coach children."
The county claims they had no idea it was the same Thomas Jones filing an application and treated it as a new application. County employees don't know the coaches personally and simply run a background check.
Jones coached for another two years until he left last year. The county says they only learned of his fake identity in April.
"When all the facts came clear that he did falsify documentation from years ago, he was suspended from coaching indefinitely, " says Robinson.
The CBS46 Bulldog caught up with the president of the football association, and Jones himself. Jones says he was upfront with parents about his past.
"I would always tell them I've been arrested before, these are my charges. I understand if you don't want me to coach your child," he said.
The football association stands by Jones and disputes the county's account that they had no idea Jones was the same person when they allowed him to continue coaching in 2015.
Nonetheless, Henry County says its legal department is exploring the legalities of this, and whether Jones broke the law when he lied to them.
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