CVI UGA Holistic View of Impact of County Video Presentation of the Meeting https://dekalbcountyga.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=2698
Welcome to the land of Oz and secret meetings
CVI UGA Holistic View of Impact of County Video Presentation of the Meeting https://dekalbcountyga.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=2698
Welcome to the land of Oz and secret meetings
RICHARD MERRITT: BARCOMPLAINT.COM REPORTS FORMER SMYRNA ATTORNEY ARRESTED ON FELONY ELDER ABUSE, THEFT, EXPLOITATION AND CHECK FRAUD CHARGES — 3/05/2018
Cobb County, GA – Former Smyrna attorney Richard V. Merritt, who was disbarred Monday after admitting to settling a client’s suit for $75,000 and then pocketing the money, woke up in the Cobb County Jail Thursday after being arrested on separate felony elder abuse, theft, exploitation and check fraud charges.
The spokesperson for the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office said he had no further information on the charges, which were apparently filed by the Smyrna Police Department. The booking report includes a notation that Merritt is to be held for the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, where a press liaison said they received a bench warrant for “indirect criminal attempt.”
He provided no further information, and there was no immediate response from Smyrna police.
On Friday, Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds said there was little he could offer concerning Merritt’s case so far.
“We have yet to receive the complete investigative file from the Cobb Sheriff’s Department,” said Reynolds via email. “When we do, our White Collar Unit will begin the process of determining what charges we will proceed to the grand jury with. In addition, our Investigators will begin reviewing the file upon receipt to see if there are any additional victims or charges which need to be pursued.”
Merritt remained in jail on Friday afternoon.
Merritt is the subject of multiple civil suits in Cobb County, including one filed by a woman who claims he forged her name on a $150,000 settlement agreement and check without her knowledge. She claims Merritt never turned over any funds.
He also faces several legal malpractice and fraud lawsuits in Cobb County from clients claiming he agreed to handle their cases and then never filed them and never pursued any actions.
Merritt has represented himself in each of the lawsuits.
The attorney for a plaintiff in one case, Sapp & Moriarty partner Daniel Moriarty—interviewed before word of Merritt’s arrest was known—said he was surprised at the mild tone in the state Supreme Court’s disbarment opinion, which only said Merritt “settled a client’s personal injury matter for $75,000 but failed to promptly disburse those funds to his client or her medical providers and failed to render a full accounting of the funds to his client.”
“That’s a euphemism for stealing money,” said Moriarty. “I talked to an investigator who has seen his bank records and determined that he had stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars. It just blows my mind what he’s gotten away with.”
According the bar complaint reviewed by the Daily Report, Merritt was retained to handle a personal injury matter in December 2016 and settled it last February, cashing the forged check Feb.7. On Feb. 10, he filed a lawsuit “and continued to lead me on until late May 2017 when I learned what he had done,” the confidential complaint said.
“I have never seen a dime of the $75,000,” said Merritt’s former client.
Another civil suit filed in Cobb County State Court last year said Merritt forged a husband and wife’s signature on a settlement and check in a medical malpractice case and never told them.
Another complaint said Merritt accepted a med-mal case and continually told his client that he was investigating it. Merritt sent emails saying “All is well and we are moving forward on your case,” and “No worries I’m on it!”
Then he stopped accepting the woman’s calls, and the filing deadline passed.
In that case, Judge Maria Golick struck Merritt’s answers and ordered a damages-only trial after finding he “willfully failed to respond” to hearing notices. Golick scheduled a show-cause criminal contempt hearing, and the decision is apparently still under advisement, according to court records.
In the case Moriarty is handling, Merritt also allegedly claimed to be conducting discovery and searching for experts, even scheduling bogus depositions for his clients, only to cancel them at the last minute.
Merritt was the principal for the Smyrna-based Merritt Firm, whose offices were the subject of several dispossessory actions between 2015 and 2017, according to court records.
Last August, Merritt sued two attorneys on behalf of spine surgeon and frequent medical expert James Chappuis. At the time, Merritt said he vice president and general counsel of Chappuis’ Orthopaedic & Spine Surgery of Atlanta.
That case settled confidentially shortly after it was filed.
February 3, 2019 by nootkabear
Dekalb PD seek help in locating suspect in the alleged murder of his mother
One of my people was represented by this guy, and he stole $45,000.00 of her settlement. She and some other victims testified in Court a couple weeks ago. He was sentenced to 30 years, with 15 to serve. He was supposed to turn himself in 02/01/2019. He did not show up.
02/02/2019 Sharon Swanepoel Top News
Tucker, Ga. – Dekalb County Police Department is asking for the public’s help in locating a suspect in the alleged murder of his mother. According to DCPD, at 9:30 a.m. this morning, Feb. 2, 2019, police responded to a home on Planters Row in Stone Mountain in reference to a dead person call. The victim, Shirley Merritt, was found stabbed to death inside her residence. Police believe this is an isolated domestic-related incident.
Richard Merritt, 44. Photo courtesy of Dekalb County Police Department
The victim’s son, Richard Merritt, 44, has been identified as the suspect. He is described as a white male, 5’10”, 175 lbs, brown eyes and brown hair. There is an active murder warrant for his arrest. He is possibly in possession of the victim’s 2009 Lexus RX350, Brown Color, GA Tag CBV6004.
DeKalb Police are asking anyone with information on the whereabouts of Richard Merritt to please contact the DeKalb County Police Department at 770-724-7850 or Crime Stoppers at 404-577-TIPS(8477).
[DeKalb County commissioners are discussing options to remove the Lost Cause Confederate obelisk in Decatur Square, erected in 1908 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.]
DeKalb committee to discuss removal of Confederate monument
By Rosie Manins May 4, 2018 (…)
DeKalb committee to discuss removal of Confederate monument
he next step for DeKalb County in its quest to remove a 110-year-old Confederate monument from Decatur Square will be decided by the county’s operations committee.
The committee – made up of DeKalb Commissioners Steve Bradshaw, as chairman, Nancy Jester and Mereda Davis Johnson – will discuss what to do at their next meeting on May 8.
DeKalb committee to discuss removal of Confederate monument
Mereda Davis Johnson
Johnson, representing District 5, introduced a resolution to remove the Lost Cause monument that was passed by the Board of Commissioners in January, and has since suggested a taskforce be set up, involving DeKalb citizens, to explore options and make recommendations.
Commissioner Kathie Gannon, of Super District 6, has also suggested the monument be relocated to county property in a less prominent position, and that historic context be added to the display.
Those options will be considered by the committee, as the county received only two responses to a public request for information about moving the monument, which ran 60 days from Feb. 22 to April 23.
DeKalb chief operating officer Zachary Williams said one respondent suggested the monument be left in place, outside the historic DeKalb County courthouse, and turned into a veterans’ memorial.
The other respondent suggested the 30-foot-tall obelisk, erected in 1908 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, could be relocated to the Allatoona Pass Battlefield of the Red Top Mountain State Park in northwest Georgia.
DeKalb committee to discuss removal of Confederate monument
Williams, speaking to commissioners during their Committee of the Whole meeting on May 1, said the county had contacted the director of the department of natural resources for state parks, who agreed to respond if the county provided a detailed request or submission.
Williams said another “potentially interested party” was sent a submission form by the county at the end of April.
“We’ve continued to solicit and seek ideas, although the RFI period has expired,” he said.
Prior to issuing an RFI, the county also contacted the Atlanta History Center, Oakland Cemetery, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, Pickett’s Mill Battlefield Site, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Marietta Confederate Cemetery and Marietta National Cemetery, to gauge interest in the monument.
“We did not receive an interest from any of those, and overall we’ve not received a robust interest in doing anything as it relates to moving or contextualizing or anything else as it relates to the monument,” Williams said.
Rader, who represents District 2, suggested the operations committee take charge, to form a recommendation for the Board of Commissioners to consider.
DeKalb committee to discuss removal of Confederate monument
“I think that it would be time now, given that we’ve solicited input from outside folks, that we then commit this to the operations committee, since they’re responsible for county property, to take those suggestions and maybe come up with our next step,” Rader said. “Because what I see us having to do is to go ahead and now resolve to take the next steps forward, whether it’s one of the suggestions from commissioners or a hybrid of those, depending on how the commission wants to move forward and it seems like that deliberation would best occur in the operations committee.”
In April, Johnson said the county would remove the monument no matter what, once it had explored its legal options.
“We have the authority to do so,” she said April 10. “I would like to put it in storage until we can get someone that can take it. We have to follow the law and the bureaucracy but we intend to remove the monument.”
The obelisk, which “glorifies and praises soldiers of the Confederacy,” has become a contentious issue for thousands in the community who have signed petitions for and against its removal.
Hundreds of people have also marched against the monument and held vigils calling for it to be taken away from downtown Decatur.
Opponents of the Jim Crow-era obelisk say it is inappropriate to have a monument, which was created to intimidate people of color, in a prominent position at the county’s seat of justice and administration.
They point out the monument’s installation in Decatur Square came on the heels of the bloody Atlanta race riot of 1906, when armed white mobs attacked black people, killing more than 25 and injuring more than 90.
Those who prefer the monument to stay in situ say it is an important reminder of history, and that more information should be installed around the structure for historic context.
Hell, let’s all get together and bitch about something, just for the sake of finding out if the County will remove it. NOTICE the article shows that the thing is at the “old” Courthouse. Not at the currently used Courthouse, but the ancient, antique courthouse. So WTF, is the problem here?
DECATUR, Ga. – The DeKalb County Fleet Management Department was awarded the “Best Fleet” in North America Award sponsored by 100 Best Fleets in America and Governing Magazine. The county earned first place out of 38,000 public fleets and was recognized for distinguished customer service, sustainability practices and employee training.
“The DeKalb Fleet Management Department exemplifies all that is right about public service,” said Tom C. Johnson, founder of the 100 Best Fleets in America program. “The county has developed best practices that reduce the need for unscheduled repairs, maintenance costs and negative environmental impacts.”
Fleet Management maintains repair services for a fleet of approximately 3,600 county vehicles and equipment. In the past year, the department has maintained a 99 percent positive feedback rate on customer service surveys and implemented green initiatives that include upgrading the fueling program, opening an environmentally friendly above-ground fuel site and reducing gasoline and diesel fuel consumption. The county also trained nearly 300 drivers on idle reduction which limits engine running time and improves DeKalb’s air quality.
“DeKalb County is pleased to recognize the leadership of Robert Gordon, deputy director of fleet management,” said CEO Michael Thurmond. “His commitment to excellent service, environmental stewardship and creating a high-trust culture is an example for all of us to follow.”
Fleet Management which is part of the Department of Public Works includes 1,600 full- and part-time employees and a budget of $460 million.
“We keep DeKalb rolling,” said Deputy Director Gordon.” Winning the 100 Best Fleet Award shows that the county is providing value to the citizens we serve and that we are focused on doing the right thing.”
Started nineteen years ago, the annual 100 Best Fleets in America program recognizes high-trust, high-performance fleet operations in North America and Canada. Criteria for the award includes use of technology, performance, collaboration, service turnaround time and accountability. This award was recently announced at the NAFA Institute and Expo. For more information, visit http://www.the100bestfleets.com.
A neighbor didn’t like looking over our 6-foot fence into our back yard with 2 BBQs, 8 bikes hanging from a rack, a swing set, and a garden of wild spinach/goosefoot/lanb’s quarter, among other things.
The City redefined a description in logic “inoperative” to prohibit any vehicle that can’t be driven on the streeet, including RV and cars that have Permits from California to be kept non-Operational in a driveway.
Since 2013, we have actually tried to cooperate with the City of Lakewood on many things: we painted over minor paint chips on a post and window and siding trim areas, we prettied up our flower beds more, but nothing satisfied the City and our neighbor.
They tried to declare our Property a Public Nuisance, but the Planning Commission held a hearing on November 3, 2016 and decided that our Back Yard and Pet Door were not Public, so they ruled to Abate a Private Nuisance, which the California Codes don’t allow. Civil Code 3494 allows the City to abate a Public Nuisance, not a Private Nuisance. The agency summary, section 8 stated “ Any reference to the term “public nuisance” shall be replaced with the word “nuisance”” We appealed that decision to abate a Private Nuisance and Code Enforcement withdrew the action before a hearing on appeal with the City Council on March 14, 2017 by saying we complied.
The City lost in their own hearings, so they decided to fool the Court into helping them harass us:
2/21/2018: CA Superior Court, Bellflower, Judge Tsao signed an Administrative Inspection Warrant to allow the City to conduct a Fishing Expedition in our Back Yard (within the curtilage of a 6 foot fence). The Affidavit by the City Employee was insufficient, and stated simply “Since the property located at 5708 Candor Street, Lakewood, California 90713 may pose a danger to the health and safety of the local residents and since the property owner refused entry into the rear yard for an inspection, I am requesting an Administrative Inspection Warrant be issued to inspect the rear yard of the property.”
There were no allegations of violations of “of a state or local law or regulation relating to building, fire, safety, plumbing, electrical, health, labor, or zoning, which, if such violation existed, would be an immediate threat to health or safety”, as required by Code of Civil Procedure 1822.56. By not stating it, the City admitted that there is no immediate threat to health or safety.
We requested an ExParte Hearing to Quash the Warrant, which was denied. The City used the Warrant to trespass on our private property without our permission to “inspect” our back yard.
The City filed a “Return of Administrative Inspection Warrant”, which did not mention any Hazard to Health and Safety, but merely named 4 Municipal Codes alleged to be violated:
So, a trash can was visible from the street, some back yard plants were higher than they’d like, and they’d like me to get rid of some bicycles and our swing set, because it hadn’t been used for a while – all aesthetic opinions about our private property in our private back yard, with no hazard to Health or Safety.
4/12/2018: CA Superior Court, Bellflower, Judge Tsao signed an 2nd Administrative Inspection Warrant to allow the City to conduct a Fishing Expedition in our Back Yard (within the curtilage of a 6 foot fence).
We requested an ExParte Hearing in Court to Quash the Warrant, which was denied. The City used the Warrant to trespass on our private property without our permission to “inspect” our back yard.
2 Violations of our Right to Privacy and Property without unreasonable Search and Seizure, protected by the 4th Amendment and Article 1 of the California Constitution.
Now, they also want to tow away a vehicle that they say is “innoperable”, with no evidence, but try to use Municipal Code 44330 (G) to arbitrarily classify as “Inoperative”. These Municipal Codes are applicable on the streets or on City Property, but not on Private Property. Unlike State Codes relating to building, fire, safety, plumbing, electrical, health, labor, or zoning, Municipal Codes are not Law, don’t apply to Private Property, and can’t be used to get a Warrant under Code of Civil Procedure 1822.56.
Government is out of Control!
Cities, Counties, States and the Federal Government are overspending and over-controlling.
In the past, Cities have left the individual alone. The IRS, FTB, ATF, FBI, CIA and other higher govenment entities have been the ones to usurp power.
Now, Cities are getting out of hand, too.
Palo Alto v. Leibrand: Gardening Grandma Arrested for Failure to Prune
In Palo Alto, Calif., a 61-year old grandmother was arrested and almost went to jail,
because “her hedge of xylosma bushes was more than 2 feet tall”.
This was covered in the Monday, December 8, 2003 edition of the Daily Press, which commented “While she won her fight with cancer, she couldn’t prevail over city hall. But frankly, she shouldn’t have had to try.”.
Check out the grandma’s story at dailysignal.com/2010/05/14/criminalizing-unsatisfactory-hedge-pruning/ (Criminalizing Unsatisfactory Hedge Pruning)
Stockton arrests Lady for sharing Ceviche with PotLuck Facebook Group. 1, 2, 3, 4
Landlord helps near-homeless with low rents – City goes after him because repairs after vandalism aren’t fast enough. 1, 2
2 Peter 2: 2-3) warns us “and through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you”
Michael Downs, the son of a neighbor, (who does not even live in Lakewood – apparently lives at 2257 Jeans Ct, Signal Hill), has been complaining to the City of Lakewood for years about our property. He doesn’t like our mini-RV parked in our driveway, but the Non-Opp status granted by DMV makes it legal. Because he couldn’t get the City of Lakewood to force us to get rid of the mini-RV, Michael Downs has constantly made PETTY COMPLAINTS to the City of Lakewood. Michael Downs’ PETTY COMPLAINTS are continued HARASSMENT, using the City as a pawn to harass us. It appears that the City has received complaints from him that:
our lawn isn’t green enough (in a drought, we should water less),
that our front flowerbeds weren’t pretty enough (so, we made them prettier),
that our front porch post had a small amount of chipped paint (so we repainted it),
that our bikes at the side of the house weren’t pretty enough (so, we put them behind a gate),
that we shouldn’t have a pet door to our garage for our cat to go in and out,
some Paint on the eaves in our back yard was chipping (so we painted there too),
my (tall) garden of wild spinach in my back yard didn’t look nice (now removed, season over),
we should remove the swing set and BBQ in my back yard,
We fixed every petty thing he complained about, except we’re not blocking the Pet Door in the Garage Door that our Cat uses, and we’re not getting rid of the swingset, BBQ, etc in our Back Yard. Michael Downs made a false complaint to the City of Dog Poop in the Back Yard, which SEACA quickly determined was false.
The City’s Code Enforcement didn’t know what to do, so they finally asked the Planning Commission to see if we should be declared a Public Nuisance. At the Public Nuisance Hearing on November 3, 2016, it was obvious that nothing on our property rose to the level of a “PUBLIC NUISANCE’, so the Commission decided to remove the word “Public” and just make it a “Nuisance”. Sorry, Commissioners, if it’s not a Public Nuisance, it’s a Private Nuisance, which is not a crime and the City has no business acting on something that 1 neighbor doesn’t like.
We’re tired of fixing PETTY THINGS that Michael Downs is complaining about!!
We fixed everything they asked except for their request to cover the Pet Door and throw away more possessions in the Back Yard.
They had a Public Nuisance Hearing on November 3, 2016, and they found that it was not a Public Nuisance, so they declared it a “Nuisance” (without the word “Public”) instead. Planning and Environmental Commission Resolution 14-2016.
California Civil Code says that any nuisance that is not a Public Nuisance under 3480 is a Private Nuisance. (There is no other). A Private Nuisance is a private tort by a neighbor that a City is not allowed to get involved in. Their is no “Municipal Affair”, nothing “public” and no “necessity for immediate abatement”
As quoted and stated by the California Appellate Court:
“While we have not found authority in California that states where the burden of proof lies, other jurisdictions have held that the municipality has the burden of proof of the nuisance and the necessity for its immediate abatement. (See Solly v. City of Toledo, supra, at p. 466; Crossman v. City of Galveston, 112 Tex. 303 [247 S.W. 810, 815, 26 A.L.R. 1210]; Lawton v. Steele, 152 U.S. 133, 135 [38 L.Ed. 385, 388, 14 S.Ct. 499].) We feel that the reasoning of these cases should be applied here. Such conclusion is consistent with the rule requiring the state to have the burden of proving.” Leppo v. City of Petaluma (1971) 20 Cal.App.3d 711 at page 718
The City of Lakewood is another City that is overeager to unnecessarily enforce Municipal Codes on non-City Property without any necessity, where there is no “Public” Nuisance or need.
The City Manager sent us a letter stating “…on March 9, 21017,Code Enforcement staff conducted a follow up inspection and established that the remaining two violations had been corrected sufficiently for the Community Development Director to determine that at this point in time that the property was in substantial compliance with the Lakewood Municipal Code.” and “RECOMMENDATION That the City Council accepts and files this report, as the subject matter of the appeal is moot and compliance with the original Final Notice of Violation has been accepted by the City.”
Agenda and Notice 11/3/16
Agenda and Notice 11/3/16,
Hearing Summary 11/3/16,
Resolution 11/10/16, Appeal 11/14/16.
1) CA Superior Court Los Angeles County Case # VD030155 TRO/Domestic Violence 6/18/1997
Loretta V. Downs v Michael Downs – to Protect Derrick 12/14/94 & Michael Jr 8/10/91 at 17825 Clark Ave Bellflower
It was alleged that Michael came several times and stole TV and furniture while Loretta was gone and a relative was watching the 2 kids.
2) CA Superior Court Los Angeles County Case # VS006831
Yolanda Batriz v Michael & Loretta Downs – Civil Harassment granted 10/8/1997
3) Michael Downs sued Long Beach twice:
8/17/1994-6/29/1998 CA Superior Court Los Angeles County Case # SOC074310
9/3/1987 – 9/23/1991 CA Superior Court Los Angeles County Case # SOC089152
In California, Cities have often gotten totally out of hand, so the Legislature had to start restricting them more.
In 1967, the ability of Municipal Corporations to issue Citations or Notice to Appear was repealed (former Penal Code 853.1 to 853.4).
In 1970, the California Legislature repealed provisions for municipalities to enact ordinances or regulations imposing restrictions equal to or greater than those imposed by the state. California Health and Safety Code 17958.5, requires that the Building Code can only be amended for geographical, topographical, or climatic reasons, not by whim..(see Briseno v. City of Santa Ana 6 Cal.App.4th 1378, 8 Cal.Rptr.2d 486 (4th Dist 1992), Building Insustry Assn. V. City of Livermore, 45 Cal.App.4th 719, 52 Cal.Rptr.2d 902 (1st Dist 1996), Baum Electric Co. v. City of Huntington Beach 33 Cal.App.3d 572, 109 Cal.Rptr. 260 (4th Dist 1973), Gonzales v. Santa Ana 12 Cal.App.4th 1335, Cal. Apt. Assn v. City of Fremont 97 Cal.App.4th 693.
Many Cities are using False Pretexts for Domination, usually labeled an unreasonable application of the Municipal Code or Building Code, because it is not for any needed purpose or exigent circumstance. “A legislative body may not, under the guise of the police power, impose restrictions that are unnecessary and unreasonable upon the use of private property or the pursuit of useful activities. (McKay Jewelers vs. Bowron).” In Chantiles vs. Lake Forest II Master Homeowner’s Assn, 37 Cal.App.4th 914,922, (1955), the Court terms the [government’s] actions as “a clear cut case of a ‘nanny state’ – nanny in almost a literal sense – going too far. These actions flew in the face of one of the most ancient precepts of American society and Anglo-American legal culture. “A man’s house is his castle” was not penned by anonymous, but by the famous jurist Sir Edward Coke in 1628.” “It is of far greater concern to effectuate an incremental whittling away of private property rights absent demonstrable public harm.”
Hurwitz v. City of Orange, (September 24, 2004) (cite as: 2004 WL 2129731 (Cal. App. 4 Dist.) “… a city’s finding of “nuisance” could be found by a trial court to be pretextual (as a cover for the substantive taking of property, or as here, a property right), this is it. “in substance, the sequence shows that the city was not using its police power to abate a nuisance. Rather, it was trying to use its police power to abate nuisances as a fig leaf to hide the rather naked expropriation of an existing property right.” “We need only add that there is precedent for the point that a public entity cannot mask what is substantively a taking merely by invoking its nuisance power.”
Most Cities have no charter granting them exclusive jurisdiction for “Municipal Affairs”, and thus, each as a Municipal Corporation with the limited powers of a General Law City, is subject to County and State Codes and Statutes, with which it is in conflict. (An ordinance which prohibits the same acts which are forbidden by state law is void to extent that it duplicates state law. People v. Commons (Super. 1944) 64 Cal.App.2d Supp. 925, 148 P.2d 724; see Municipal Corporations 592(2).
The police powers of a city under Government Code 38660 include the power to regulate construction, but not maintenance and use, unless they are unsafe for renters and the public: it is not designed to protect the owner from himself.
Health and Safety Code section 17912. “Rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to the provisions of this part and building standards published in the State Building Standards Code, relating to the erection or construction of buildings or structures, shall not apply to existing buildings or structures or to buildings or structures as to which construction is commenced or approved prior to the effective date of the rules, regulations, or building standards, except by act of the Legislature, but rules, regulations, and building standards relating to use, maintenance, and change of occupancy shall apply to all hotels, motels, lodginghouses, apartment houses, and dwellings, or portions thereof, and buildings and structures accessory thereto, approved for construction or constructed before or after the effective date of such rules, regulations, or building standards.”
Building Code 3401 essentially grandfathers in existing structures that are safe.
Many Cities still go beyond their authority in the application of Building Codes. The City’s Building Official, Code Enforcement Dept., and Dept. of Community Development all work under the auspices of the California Department of Housing and Community Development, whose vesting authority is delimited in 2001 California Building Code section 101.17.
Join us in returning Government to the People. Help us teach Renegade Bureaucrats their Constitutional Limits.
Contact Jim Krage at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to help.
We have been fighting, not only Annexation into Stone Mountain, City Limits, but also creation and Annexation into a new City of Greenhaven. Some responsible, caring individuals, with their heads on straight have led the fight against Greenhaven.
We need more people like Ed Williams, Ed.D.
One such individual, Ed Williams, Ed.D. was an instrumental opponent who knows how to get people to understand the truth about what they were trying to accomplish, and it was not for the good of the people.
The email I received today:
I have attached a press release related to the recent failure of Greenhaven cityhood bill (HB644) to make it to the House floor for a vote o Crossover day
Ed Williams. Ed.D.
Chair, Concerned Citizens For Effective Government
Roderick L. Wyatt, 61, of Stone Mountain, has been charged with accepting bribe payments in exchange for approving the enrollment of almost 20 students to a local college, through a federal workforce program in DeKalb County. The federal indictment alleges that Wyatt agreed to accept payments from the college president for each student sent to the college through WorkSource DeKalb, a federally funded program.
“Wyatt allegedly sold his supervisory position with WorkSource DeKalb for cash. In doing so, he allegedly accepted a “bounty” for each student sent to a specific college,” said U. S. Attorney John A. Horn.
“An important mission of the Office of Inspector General is to investigate allegations of fraud relating to Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act grants issued by the U.S. Department of Labor. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate these types of allegations,” said Rafiq Ahmad, Special Agent in Charge, Atlanta Region, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General.
According to United States Attorney Horn, the charges, and other information presented in court: the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is a federal public law designed to improve and modernize America’s workforce development system by providing dislocated and low-income individuals with the skills and education needed to obtain employment and by providing employers with trained and qualified workers to fill employment vacancies.
WorkSource DeKalb (formerly DeKalb Workforce Development) was a DeKalb County department funded exclusively by the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. WorkSource DeKalb (“WSD”) served the unemployed and underemployed citizens of DeKalb County by providing work readiness programs, services, and activities necessary to obtain sustainable wages. Using federal funds, WSD paid the cost for unemployed and underemployed individuals to attend pre-screened schools or programs where the individuals gained the technical or vocational skills needed to obtain employment in fields such as nursing, truck driving, or welding. After reviewing the unemployed individuals’ career aspirations and educational interests, WSD staff members recommended the individuals to particular pre-screened schools or programs.
From 2013 to April 2017, Wyatt served as a WSD Employment and Training Supervisor. As a supervisor, Wyatt reviewed and approved the school/program recommendations made by WSD staff members.
In 2014, the president and founder of a pre-screened school that offered its students nursing assistant and medical technician certifications approached Wyatt and offered to pay him for each individual that WSD referred to the College. In 2014 and 2015, Wyatt approved the enrollment of approximately 19 students to the College. The College’s president paid Wyatt $100 for each student approved to attend his school. In total, the College received approximately $82,000 in federal funds under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The name of the college has not been identified in the Information or any of the court pleadings.
This case is being investigated by the Department of Labor – Office of the Inspector General and Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey W. Davis and Special Assistant United States Attorney Tyler Man prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016.
State Representative Vernon Jones (D-Lithonia) today announced that he will introduce legislation that would create a state commission on historic monuments during the 2018 legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly.
“The recent events in Charlottesville, Va., have spurred on calls for the removal of historical monuments and artifacts that honor a dark era in Georgia’s history,” said Jones. “While I have my personal beliefs on the matter, I propose that a bipartisan, systematic and transparent study be conducted in an effort to arrive at an inclusive solution.”
Should this legislation pass and be enacted, this commission would hold statewide hearings to discuss historic monuments and artifacts, and would make recommendations to the governor and the General Assembly regarding monument placement and the possibility of adding new monuments that hold historic value to the citizens of Georgia.
“Hysteria and knee jerk reactions are not the solution. Sensitive subjects such as this deserve calm, practical and open dialogue. A house divided cannot stand, and Georgians must show the nation that we can unite for the greater good,” added Jones.
Commission members would reflect and represent a broad spectrum of interest on the subject, and would include, but not be limited to, preservationists, historians and advocacy groups.
Jones represents the citizens of District 91, which includes portions of DeKalb and Rockdale counties.
Police investigation leads to officer arrest in DeKalb
Neighbor Staff 1 hr ago
A DeKalb County police officer has been charged with theft by taking, tampering with evidence and violation of oath of office.
Officer Ajamia Guyton resigned immediately during the investigation that led to the charges.
“It’s very upsetting to me when an officer crosses that line, but what I do take great pride in is that our own officers recognized the wrongdoing, initiated the investigation and made the arrest of someone undeserving to wear the badge,” Chief James Conroy said.
The charges resulted from a call of forced entry to an apartment at 2795 Evans Mill Road in Lithonia on March 4. Officers arrived on the scene and found suspected narcotics, firearms and currency in view. Three suspects were detained and Guyton was assigned to secure the location until the search warrant was obtained. When detectives returned with the search warrant they observed items in the residence had been moved.
Neighbor News Online Updates
Detectives immediately initiated an investigation that led to the arrest of Guyton and the recovery of $231 taken from the scene.
Guyton began working with the department in December 2015 and was assigned to the Uniform Division.
Guyton was incarcerated in the DeKalb County Jail on the stated charges.
My last post stated that there were no other cameras on the property, except the one viewing our property.
Now go back and look at the angle of the camera before, and the angle in the picture above. Now, it is pointed directly at us. Amazing, yes?
After I stated that, the camera pointed more toward our property, and another camera was added to a tree, in yet another neighbor’s property. Another property where no one lives, makes one wonder if the owner of that property knows that his property is being used to spy on us.
Also, the owner went to the property after dark the other night, and had a really big ladder on the truck. He took the ladder off, and I don’t know what tree he climbed, but I would imagine, that now, there is a third camera spying on our every move. I guess if someone, in an answer to a lawsuit, claims that you have been trespassing, they have to get evidence from somewhere, huh?
Grand jury hears more evidence in DeKalb judge case
Updated: 5:22 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015 | Posted: 4:23 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015
By Rhonda Cook – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
For the second time in a week, a special prosecutor laid out evidence for a grand jury that allegedly proves DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Cynthia Becker made false statements to the Judicial Qualifications Commission.
Prosecutor Parks White is asking the grand jury to return an indictment against Becker, who resigned March 1 after 14 years on the bench. In a letter announcing her planned retirement, Becker wrote that she was leaving the bench because she was getting married and moving to another county.
Becker allegedly made the false statements during an interview at a law office in Marietta, which made it a Cobb County matter.
White, the district attorney for five counties in northeast Georgia, was appointed special prosecutor when the Cobb district attorney recused his office because three of his top prosecutors were once practiced before Becker as assistant district attorneys in DeKalb.
He left the Cobb courthouse Thursday without commenting. Grand jury proceedings are secret by law.
Becker’s attorney, Brian Steel, also declined comment Thursday.
Becker is accused of making false statements when she was questioned about her sentencing of former DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Crawford Lewis, which the the JQC was investigating.
Two years ago, Lewis was charged with felony racketeering and faced the possibility of up to 65 years in prison. But two weeks before his trial was scheduled to start, Lewis agreed to testify against his two co-defendants. — Pat Reid, the school district’s former chief operating officer, and Reid’s ex-husband, architect Tony Pope. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to let him plead guilty to misdemeanor obstruction of the investigation of school construction contracts and to recommend a sentence of 12 months probation.
Prosecutors and Lewis’ lawyers said Becker agreed to the deal.
Yet, when it came time to sentence Lewis, Becker ordered him jailed for 12 months. She said the deal was void because his testimony was not truthful. Becker also ordered Lewis locked up immediately and refused to consider an appeal bond until she returned the following week from an out-of-town trip to attend the Army-Navy football game.
Nine months later, the JQC started an administrative investigation into Becker. Last September, she was called to to the Marietta law office of JQC member Robert Ingram to answer questions. Becker insisted several times that Lewis never asked for a bond.
On a personal Note, on personal experience…
Personal Note: Judge Becker was the Judge that gave GA Power easement over our entire property, after we proved that GA Power had forged and falsified documentation so that they could claim to have an express grant easement. There was no Dr. Robert Wells in 1937, 1942, or ever. There had been Dr. James Wells, but he passed away before that date.
The Wells Family lived in the Brown-Wells house on Ridge Avenue, which is where the Stone Mountain Historic Society is currently located.
Remember, if you are going to lie, don’t lie about one of the most known families in an area. Also don’t lie about the people’s names in the family. The Wells Family Tree is great! When I saw it, it went back to the 1560’s in England, I believe it was, and the Wells Family came here almost on the Mayflower. A lot of History and Heritage in the Wells Family. Very well documented, and the property the Wells Family had owned, was sold and became Stone Mountain Industrial Park, on the other side of town is where their property had been.
Georgia Power must have paid Judge Becker a lot of money to find against all of our evidence. Including evidence that showed the documents were signed by a ball point pen, which did not come out until the late 60’s. May she get what she deserves!!!
On June 15, 2015 (Check the Date on the Warning, it shows June 13, 2015. The date she was at our property, was July 17, 2015) while getting a cup of coffee, at 08:37 am, I saw someone messing around our gate. I went to see who it was, it was our less than friendly Code Enforcement Officer, J. Brown, leave the Warning on the ground, she screamed at us at the top of her lungs, in front of a whole bunch of neighbors, and went huffing off.
One might wonder why she parked across the street for the visit. According to the recording at DeKalb County Code Enforcement Office, they open at 08:30 am. She was at our house at 08:37 am, and it takes 20-30 minutes to get there from here.
mail from J Brown
The Warning was also mailed to us, from Austell, GA, not Decatur. Notice the date on the postmark, July 17, 2015, the same day she visited us.
The Gate and Fence code enforcement claims we need permits for, has been in place for 20 (twenty) years. We are not on County sewer. Our septic system is in tip top shape.
Looks like a fraudulent claim to me. Makes me wonder who she is friends with. It also makes me wonder why someone would make such a fictional claim against us.
Posted: 6:01 p.m. Friday, April 24, 2015
Ch. 2 Investigation reveals possible kickback to DeKalb officials
By Jodie Fleischer
DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — DeKalb County’s Interim CEO Lee May is calling for an investigation into a $4,000 check with his name on it, saying he didn’t endorse it, or receive the money from it when it was cashed.
A Chanel 2 Action News – Atlanta Journal Constitution investigation uncovered the check while looking into work done at May’s home which was paid for by DeKalb taxpayers. The vendor who did the work went on to win hundreds of thousands of dollars in DeKalb contracts.
“Absolutely, I plan on having a conversation to figure out what the hell was done, excuse my French,” May told investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer.
“Morris [Williams] contacted me and said, ‘Doug, Lee’s having some financial trouble, is there any way you can help him out?'” Cotter recounted.
May was a DeKalb commissioner at the time, and had just filed bankruptcy.
Cotter got the check from a water removal and restoration company that had just completed work at May’s home in January.
“It could have been a reimbursement check. Yes, but it wasn’t my signature on it and I’m not sure how the check got out there,” said John Meyer, who used to own that company, Water Removal Services.
Cotter says it couldn’t be a reimbursement, because the county directly paid for the work at May’s house, roughly $6,500. But the $4,000 check was made out to Lee May, personally, six days later.
Cotter says he delivered it to Morris Williams because he was close friends with him and saw him more often than he saw May, since Williams was the commissioners’ chief of staff he worked at the Decatur office full time.
Within a few days, Cotter says he heard from Morris Williams again.
“Morris asked me, ‘Doug, is there any way you can cash this for Lee?’ said Cotter, “I said sure, I know both of them.”
Cotter’s family owns a liquor store with a check cashing business inside, and he admits he’s the one who turned that check into $4,000 cash.
“I handed that money to Morris Williams and that was the last time I saw it,” said Cotter, “I was hoping it was going to the intended use , to help Lee [May] and his family.”
“I’m answering this very clearly,” said May, “That is not a check that was cut to me. I’ve never received $1 let alone $4000.”
The contract connection
Records show two weeks after that check cleared, bidding opened on a new county contract for water removal. Cotter submitted a bid for the same company that had done the work at May’s home, Water Removal Services, and won the contract.
“I never wanted to participate down there to begin with, that’s why we never took that contract,” said Meyer, the company’s former owner, “We just kind of backed out.”
But Meyer says Cotter still wanted the contract badly.
In fact, three days before Cotter placed the Water Removal Services bid, he reserved the name for his own new company. Haw Creek Restoration went on to make more than $300,000 in DeKalb work.
“If it’s a situation where a brand new company is getting work and they didn’t compete after it, absolutely not, that should not occur,” said May.
But it did occur. May has asked DeKalb County’s new purchasing director to investigate why it was allowed.
Fleischer asked Cotter if the $4,000 had anything to do with his bid to win that contract.
“No!” Cotter replied, “No. Lee had nothing to do with the bidding process.”
Lee May says he also had nothing to do with that check.
“It is absolutely not my signature,” said May, adding that he didn’t even know the check existed.
Fleischer pulled samples of Lee May’s signature from official county records, as well as samples of Morris Williams’ handwriting, since Cotter says when he got the check back from Williams it was already endorsed with May’s name on the back.
The “M” in May appears to resemble the “M” in Morris Williams’ regular signature.
After 17 years with the county, Williams abruptly retired last month, just as the FBI began investigating all of this. Williams had since been promoted to the position of deputy chief operating officer.
Morris Williams declined our request for an on-camera interview. By phone, he would only say Cotter’s version of events “did not happen that way.” Williams said he did not receive “that amount of money” from Cotter, but he refused to comment when Fleischer asked whether he ever gave May any money.
May has been particularly vocal in his efforts to root out DeKalb corruption since he’s taken over as interim CEO. He forwarded all of the records Channel 2 requested and a copy of the $4,000 check to the GBI, FBI, the district attorney and local law enforcement to prove he’s serious about getting to the bottom of it.
“For someone to benefit off my name, that’s inappropriate, that’s illegal and they need to be dealt with,” said May.
Updated: 8:43 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, 2015 | Posted: 6:23 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, 2015
DeKalb CEO launches investigation into own county
By Richard Belcher and Jodie Fleischer
DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — The man heading up DeKalb County has ordered a comprehensive review of operations in his county in search of corruption.
Interim CEO Lee May announced Wednesday that he’s launching an investigation and he wants all 6,000 employees to cooperate.
The investigation will employ two of the people who spent 10 months digging into the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal. Mike Bowers and Richard Hyde will have unfettered authority to look at whatever they want.
Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May’s announcement comes on the heels of a year-long Channel 2 Action News and Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation exposing misspending, corruption and theft within DeKalb County government.
Our reporting led the district attorney’s investigators and the FBI to file records requests to obtain many of the same records we did; it has already led to guilty pleas, ongoing criminal investigations and more than $25,000 repaid to DeKalb taxpayers.
Last April, May rewrote the county’s purchasing card policy after our investigation caught then-Commissioner Elaine Boyer spending taxpayer dollars on airline tickets, family vacations and other personal expenses. She resigned, and pleaded guilty to federal charges after we uncovered her scheme to pay a man who didn’t do any work but billed more than $80,000 and then funneled much of it back to Boyer’s personal bank account.
“To the people of DeKalb, I’m just deeply, deeply sorry,” Boyer told investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer.
Last June, we exposed Commissioner Stan Watson’s use of taxpayer money to pay for his personal cellphone, even though he also had a county-issued phone. He agreed to pay back about $5,000. Watson said at the time he believed it was permissible, but agreed to stop because Channel 2 was asking about it.
He has not repaid roughly $1,800 in taxpayer money spent to operate his campaign website, exposed after an investigation in September.
Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton and her aide failed to provide receipts for more than $45,000 spent with county debit cards. Sutton said she didn’t know she was required to keep receipts. She said she didn’t know she used taxpayer dollars to pay a $130 speeding ticket she got while driving a rental car at an out-of-town conference. She also paid more than $30,000 to her boyfriend, as a consultant.
“Every dime I’ve spent has been spent for the public interest,” Barnes Sutton said.
Just last month we exposed questions about a phony ethics opinion that allowed DeKalb Development Authority Chairman Vaughn Irons to win a million-dollar contract for his personal development company, APD Solutions.
Watson voted on that contract, even though he was on Irons’ payroll at the time.
“I apologize to the citizens if I did that, I didn’t know I did that,” Watson told Fleischer.
In mid-February, former DeKalb zoning official Jerry Clark pleaded guilty to taking a bribe from a nightclub owner who wanted a special land use permit. That vote was the subject of a Channel 2 Action News investigation in 2012.
Former DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis is facing a 14-count indictment accusing him of shaking down vendors for campaign contributions and manipulating contracts, among other things. His first trial ended in a hung jury; the retrial is scheduled for later this year.
During the original Ellis trial, state’s witness and unindicted co-conspirator Kelvin Walton, the former DeKalb purchasing director, admitted vendors gave him cash to help a secretary out of financial trouble. That secretary also sat on numerous selection committees to award contracts.
Former DeKalb zoning official pleads guilty to bribery charge
Ken Watts | 2/27/2015, 1:36 p.m.
Jeremy Clark, a former member of the DeKalb County Zoning Board of Appeals, pleaded guilty on Feb. 19 to a …
Jeremy Clark, a former member of the DeKalb County Zoning Board of Appeals, pleaded guilty on Feb. 19 to a federal charge of accepting a $3,500 bribe. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Jeremy Clark, a former member of the DeKalb County Zoning Board of Appeals, pleaded guilty on Feb. 19 to a federal charge of accepting a $3,500 bribe in exchange for his zoning vote in favor of letting a nightclub operate later hours.
A U.S. grand jury in Atlanta indicted Clark on Feb. 10 on one count of “converting to personal use property of another,” U.S. District Court records show.
Clark, who served on the Zoning Board of Appeals for four years, entered his guilty plea at a hearing in U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May’s court in downtown Atlanta. He will be sentenced on April 30.
Clark is facing up to 20 years in prison.
His attorney, Gary Spencer, said he’s hoping for a sentence significantly less than that because of Clark’s cooperation with prosecutors.
Clark, who left the Zoning Board of Appeals in 2013, admitted meeting with the owner of a Tucker nightclub before a zoning vote in November 2012.
Federal prosecutors have not named the club owner.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Davis said at the hearing that the club was trying to provide late-night dancing without obtaining a special permit.
In November 2008, the Board of Commissioners passed a zoning ordinance that regulated the placement and operation of late-night establishments and nightclubs.
As a general matter, the ordinance mandated that new businesses must obtain a Special Land Use Permit if they wanted to operate either as a late-night establishment or as a nightclub.
Davis said that Clark and the club owner had an agreement that Clark “would be rewarded” if the Zoning Board of Appeals granted permission for the later hours.
The board approved the club’s request and Clark was paid $2,000 in cash and received a $1,500 donation to a charity with which he was involved.
Clark must repay the $3,500 as a federal fine, according to the terms of his plea agreement.
Acting U.S. Attorney John Horn said it took only $3,500 to subvert the purpose of the DeKalb zoning ordinance that was to regulate the operation of late-night nightclubs.
“This case demonstrates how a corrupt public official can sell out the legitimate interests of the communities and citizens he serves, solely for his own profit,” Horn said. “DeKalb County citizens deserved better.”
DeKalb interim CEO Lee May appointed Clark in 2009 while he was District 5 commissioner.
In a Feb. 13 statement, May said he was deeply disturbed and saddened about the allegations and that Clark no longer has any association whatsoever with DeKalb County.
“Situations such as this are what compelled me to give the DeKalb Board of Ethics the resources and tools to serve the residents of DeKalb County, and why I signed an executive order in June 2014 to define ethics rules for county employees,” he said.
4:25 p.m. — An Austell company stopped getting calls to service county-owned generators soon after telling suspended DeKalb Chief Operating Officer Burrell Ellis the business would not contribute to his 2012 re-election campaign, a witness testified Tuesday.
Eneida Robles, who at the time worked for Power and Energy Services, had taken three calls in 2012 from Ellis trying to reach one of the business’ owners to ask for money for his re-election race.
Robles said she told him each time “we could not contribute to his campaign” and he became angry. She testified that Ellis said he would contact the county’s purchasing office the company did not want to service DeKalb.
Soon the calls to service DeKalb County generators stopped, Robles testified.
“They told us we couldn’t service DeKalb County until further notice,” Robles said. “I knew our service people were not going out to any annuals (yearly inspections).” Court is in recess until Wednesday morning.
3:50 p.m. — A former employee of an Austell company described in court the tense conversation she had with suspended DeKalb County Chief Operating Officer Burrell Ellis when she told him the business would not contribute to his 2012 re-election campaign.
The contract Power and Energy Services had with DeKalb County to service generators was relatively new and she feared she would lose her job at the small business after Ellis threatened to withhold business.
Eneida Robles testified that she took three calls from Ellis, asking to speak with one of the company owners. Each time she told Ellis co-owner Brandon Cummings was out of the office on a service call, as were her instructions. She had been told calls from Ellis should be treated as a solicitation.
When the third call from Ellis came a few days after the first two, Robles said she checked with her boss before giving Ellis a response to his request to speak to Cummings about a campaign contribution.
“When I got back on the phone, I told him that at this time we were not interested in his services, in providing campaign funds, that we could not contribute to his campaign,” she testified. “He was pretty angry with the fact that he couldn’t get Brandon on the phone. He told me ‘if you don’t want to service DeKalb County then I will contact the purchasing manager over there.’ When I said again we could not contribute, he got more angry. The tone was not a good tone.”
Minutes later, a call came from the head of DeKalb’s purchasing office, Kelvin Walton, she testified.
“I was pretty much worried about my job because I thought I had cost them the contract,” Robles testified.
2:38 p.m. — The first three witnesses called in the trial of suspended DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer Burrell Ellis offered jurors a quick tutorial on government operations and campaign finance reporting but their testimony didn’t get t o the heart of the corruption case.
A member of the special purpose grand jury that discovered the alleged corruption testified that the 23 members of the panel were assembled first to look at the Department of Watershed Management but their charge was they could examine other county agencies.
Jimmy Davis,the first witness in the trial that could last six weeks, mostly read from the court order that created the 23-person special grand jury, which completed its work in January 2013, and he responded to questions such as how often the grand jury met.
Davis was quickly followed by the head of DeKalb’s elections and voter registration office and then an investigator with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, also known at the State Ethics Commission, both to take about the mechanics and requirements of campaign reporting.
None of the three — Davis, Maxine Daniels with the county Office of Voter Registration and Elections and Ethics Commissioner investigator Bethany Whetzel — were asked about the charges of extortion, criminal attempt to commit extortion, bribery and perjury, against Ellis.
Daniels testified the outcome of elections in 2008 and 2012 when Ellis won the vote for DeKalb CEO.
Whetzel explained information contained on Ellis’ campaign disclosure reports.
12:07 p.m. — There will be no evidence any vendor lost a contract because they didn’t contribute to the 2012 re-election campaign of suspended DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer Burrell Ellis, one of his defense attorneys said in opening statements in just-started corruption trial.
Defense attorney Dwight Thomas said Ellis didn’t have the authority to revoke contracts of more than $50,000 and once jurors hear secretly recorded conversations in their entirely — rather than just the snippet prosecutors played in their opening statement — they will understand that Ellis was not threatening anyone.
He was angry, however, that some vendors did not return his phone calls, Thomas said.
“He (Ellis) will say they don’t have to give (to his campaign) but they can’t be not returning phone calls.,” Thomas said. “They have to show respect for the office.”
11:35 a.m. — One of the attorneys defending suspended CEO Burrell Ellis told jurors they will see he did nothing to personally enrich his bank account or that he took kickbacks from vendors with DeKalb County contracts.
Defense attorney Dwight Thomas said the vendor records prosecutors say Ellis broke the law to get were available to any citizen, just for the asking.
“There will not be one single piece of evidence that Burrell Ellis asked for a bribe or solicited a bribe,” Thomas said. “There will be no evidence Burrell Ellis willfully lied to a special purpose grand jury….There is no evidence Chief Executive Officer Burrell Ellis took, stole or skimmed any political funds from any campaign.”
Thomas said Ellis at all times “acted within the power and the scope and the responsibilities” of the CEO’s office.
But assistant district attorney Lawanda Hodges, before wrapping up her 38-minute opening statement, played a brief clip from a recording of Ellis telling the county employee over contracts to cut off a vendor who refused to contribute to Ellis’ 2012 re-election campaign, or to “dry him up.”
Hodges said Ellis is guilty of theft by extortion, criminal attempt to commit extortion, bribery and perjury.
10:59 a.m. — A DeKalb County prosecutor told jurors power, punishment and perjury were at the core of the case against former DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis.
Assistant District Attorney Lawanda Hodges said Ellis used his power over an appointed agency head to get a list of vendors and phone numbers to use for soliciting campaign contributions.
He also tried to use that power over vendors to raise money for his 2012 re-election effort and then he threatened to pull lucrative work from companies that didn’t pay up.
Ellis was relentless, even after vendors said “no” and even after vendors said they were no longer interested in doing business with DeKalb, Hodges said.
And when asked before a special purpose grand jury about those threats, he lied, Hodges said.
10:09 a.m. — Even before the jury was brought in for opening statements Tuesday the defense team for suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis suffered two losses.
DeKalb Superior Court Judge Courtney Johnson rejected defense attorney Craig Gillen’s efforts to show prosecutors may have tampered with a witness. Through his questions Gillen focused on assistant district attorney Lawanda Hodges’ email to subpoenaed witness Nina Hall in which the prosecutor included questions and proposed answers that Hodges said came from numerous prep sessions with Hall, a one-time Ellis aide.
Then the judge said prosecutors could use some recordings of Ellis talking about contracts in their opening statement.
9:37 a.m. – Suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis, with his wife sitting behind him and surrounded by his attorneys, is getting his day in court.
Fifteen months after he was first indicted, opening statements in his corruption trial are to begin Tuesday with 12 black women, two black men and two white women — 12 jurors and four alternates — seated to decide if Ellis committed extortion and bribery to advance his political career.
Opening statements, scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., were delayed, however, because all the jurors had not arrived at court. In the meanwhile, the judge heard from attorneys any outstanding motions.
The first issue was whether to quash a subpoena for Nina Hall, a former top aide to Ellis. Hall is expected to decline to answer questions out of concern for self-incrimination unless she is granted immunity.
Prosecutors, led by DeKalb District Attorney Robert James, say the man who once ran DeKalb government and oversaw its $1.2 billion annual budget also strong-armed county vendors into giving him campaign cash.They say they will show Ellis illegally mixed county business with his 2012 re-election campaign by threatening county contractors unless they donated.
“The evidence will not show that Ellis is simply a ‘heavy-handed campaigner,’ but will show that he is an extortionist,” wrote Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Leonora Grant in one of the hundreds documents unsealed on Tuesday.
Ellis’ defenders are expected to counter that while Ellis was aggressive in raising campaign funds — $1.5 million — he never linked support for his re-election with winning lucrative county business.
But previously sealed pre-trial rulings will limit Ellis top-tier defense team.
Superior Court Judge Courtney Johnson ruled previously that Ellis can’t claim he was set up and his attorneys can’t ask witnesses if they thought an alleged victim of Ellis’ was racist. Johnson also decided that jurors can hear about vendors not included in the indictment who Ellis hit up for campaign contributions.
For complete coverage, visit MyAJC.com.
By Alexis Stevens – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A former janitorial services manager for DeKalb County and the Georgia World Congress Center has been indicted and arraigned on charges of mail fraud and bribery, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Tuesday.
Patrick Jackson, 55, of Loganville, is accused of accepting bribes while he was employed by both agencies from 2006 until 2012, according to U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.
“Jackson is charged with abusing his official positions with DeKalb County and the Georgia World Congress Center,” Yates said in an emailed statement. “According to the indictment, over a six-year period he accepted bribes in exchange for his helping a company attain and maintain exclusive government contracts.”
While employed by both DeKalb County and the GWCC, Jackson lived in a luxury apartment in Atlanta that was being paid for and furnished by an unnamed company, Yates’ office said. In exchange, Jackson agreed to use his position as a public official to benefit that company’s interests in its business dealings with DeKalb and GWCC, but he did not disclose to either employer that he was being provided with an apartment, according to investigators.
Jackson was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sept. 9 and later was arraigned, Yates’ office said. A trial date has not yet been set.
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