Resignation, subpoenas, criminal charges: DeKalb County Commission corruption

Sometimes it doesn’t just look like they have something to hide: the FBI found some of what the DeKalb County Commmission was hiding, and one criminally-charged Commissioner promises to sing about the others, while 62 vendors and all the other sitting Commissioners are being investigated. No local elected body around here could have such problems, right?

The DeKalb FBI corruption investigation apparently started with news stories in the AJC. Coincidentally, here’s the board packet for tonight’s Lowndes County Commission meeting that it took an open records request for LAKE to get so you can see it.

20 February 2013, Fireworks erupt in court over DeKalb corruption case, by Jodie Fleischer for WSB-TV,

Only Channel 2’s Jodie Fleischer was there as a judge lashed out at prosecutors who want the public to see a secret corruption report.

The special grand jury investigating DeKalb County corruption released its report to the judge more than a month ago. So far, he has refused to release that report.

24 August 2013, Culture of corruption reigns in DeKalb, says grand jury, by Alan Judd, Bill Rankin and Bill Torpy for the AJC,

To understand the brazenness of the corruption alleged by a special DeKalb County grand jury, consider this: Officials awarded a $2.2 million-a-year tree-trimming contract to a fake company created by a Cartoon Network employee who didn’t so much as own a chain saw.

16 July 2014: Governor suspends Burrell Ellis, names Lee May interim DeKalb CEO, by Paul Yates for FOX 5,

The suspension is effective immediately, Deal said. It will last indefinitely either until the court case is completely adjudicated or Ellis term is up.

The move comes after a state-appointed panel recommended suspension of Ellis on Monday. Ellis was indicted on 15 counts last month.

“This is not something that I seek,” said Deal. “It is a very difficult kind of situation for everybody involved.”

Prosecutors say Ellis tried to extort campaign contributions from companies and their employees. Prosecutors allege Ellis instructed the county’s director of purchasing and contracting to prevent some companies from getting business because they didn’t contribute to his campaign.

23 August 2014: Corruption in DeKalb meets consequences, by jsq for LAKE.

25 August 2014: DeKalb Commissioner Boyer resigns, saying, ‘I’ve betrayed the people’, by Johnny Edwards and Mark Niesse, AJC.

“I’ve betrayed the people and I’ve abused my position of power,” she said, “and so I feel like I need to do this and publicly acknowledge that I’m ending my position today as of 5 o’clock.”

Boyer would not detail what she had done or answer specific questions about her spending, saying her attorney had advised against it because she is cooperating with law enforcement.

Federal prosecutors in June had subpoenaed purchasing card records, including invoices and receipts, from all DeKalb County commissioners as well as nearly 300 county employees.

2014-08-27: FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office Has Been Investigating DeKalb County for Months, by Lisa George for 90.1 FM WABE,

In announcing criminal charges yesterday against former DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer, U.S. Attorney Sally Yates confirmed DeKalb County has been under investigation for several months.

Law enforcement officials did not say much about the investigation. However, Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Atlanta Field Office, did say, “We’re very aware of all the very public allegations about the activity in DeKalb County, and we’ll be looking into all of ’em.”

DeKalb Interim CEO Lee May confirmed more than two months ago that FBI investigators had contacted him. “I’ve spoken to them. I’ve been fully available to them to answer any questions,” May said during an interview with WABE in June. “You know, I am cooperating completely with them.”

May also provided the FBI with his purchasing card records. All commissioners have done so. Commissioner Jeff Rader tells WABE a federal grand jury served a subpoena for all commission members’ purchasing card records. Working through the county attorney’s office, commissioners provided the records to meet a late July deadline.

2014-09-05: Feds widen investigation into DeKalb County spending, by Johnny Edwards for AJC,

A federal grand jury has served DeKalb County with a wide-ranging subpoena for vendor payment records, a clear sign that a corruption investigation won’t end with this week’s guilty plea by ex-Commissioner Elaine Boyer. Investigators want evidence of what work was done for the money, such as reports, written opinions, audits or correspondence.

The subpoena names 62 vendors paid by all the remaining sitting commissioners and Interim CEO Lee May, dating back more than six years. May was a commissioner before replacing suspended CEO Burrell Ellis, who goes on trial Monday on corruption charges of his own.

Included on the subpoena are two companies operated by Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton’s ex-boyfriend, Warren Mosby. HSI Systems & Consultants and RighThink Associates received more than $34,000 in taxpayer funds during Sutton’s first two years in office, mostly for Mosby’s advice on how to be a commissioner, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last week….

Prosecutors also want records on The Consulting Firm, which Commissioner Stan Watson paid $1,880 this year to develop a website that solicited campaign donations — a violation of the state ethics law.

2014-09-08: Federal Investigators name 62 DeKalb Commission vendors in subpoena, Brookhaven Post,

A Federal Grand Jury has widened their net on County commissioners spending. Federal authorities served DeKalb County with a wide-ranging subpoena for vendor payment records on Friday.

62 vendors have been named in the subpoena, who were paid by all sitting commissioners, dating back more than five years. Interim CEO Lee May, who was a commissioner before being named to replace suspended CEO Burrell Ellis, is also included.

2014-09-08: Lawyers in Ellis Trial Vet Potential Jurors by Jonathan Shapiro for 90.1 FM WABE,

The corruption trial of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis kicked off today with jury selection.

Ellis faces 13 felony charges including theft, bribery, and allegedly shaking down county vendors for campaign contributions.

2014-09-09: Boyer pleads guilty, will cooperate with feds, by Dick Williams For The Crier,

Former DeKalb Commissioner Elaine Boyer has had her first day in court, pleading guilty in federal court to one charge of mail fraud and one of wire fraud. She is to be sentenced December 3.

Boyer said she would cooperate with authorities on new or ongoing investigations. She is expected to win reduction in her sentence from a matter of years to months.

And this is all in addition to the the DeKalb County schools change order case that landed two school employees in prison for corruption. There’s nothing like that going on around here, right?