Suspended DeKalb CEO, Burrell Ellis, Found Guilty of Attempted Extortion, Perjury (UPDATE 1)
Ellis was acquitted of five other counts, including three counts of attempted extortion, one count of extortion, and one count of bribery.
The charges involved several county vendors who testified that Ellis had threatened to sever their contracts unless they donated to his campaign fund.
“I felt like if I didn’t contribute, my work with the county would dry up? Yes. Did that happen? That’s exactly what happened,” Brandon Cummings said in his testimony, according to a report by 11 Alive television news.
Cummings is the owner of Power and Energy Services, the company that jurors determined Ellis did attempt to extort.
Ellis was charged and suspended from his position as DeKalb County CEO in 2013. Taxpayers have continued to pay his salary as the case has dragged on, and as Lee May has served as Interim CEO.
The case first went to court in 2014 but was ruled a mistrial when jurors failed to come to agreement.
The governor’s office confirmed that Ellis will no longer be paid, Channel 2 WSBTV television news reported.
Ellis will remain the suspended CEO of DeKalb County “until the final disposition of his case or the expiration of his term of office,” according to a statement from Lee May, DeKalb’s interim CEO.
DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Courtney Johnson will sentence Ellis on July 08, 2015. The maximum sentence he could receive is fifteen years imprisonment.
But that may not be enough for DeKalb County’s Government, which has been marred by numerous corruption scandals, to turn a new leaf.
Viola Davis of the advocacy group Restore DeKalb is calling for investigations into a number of DeKalb agencies and programs, including the Local Small Business Enterprise (LSBE) program and the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP).
“Until we place restoring public trust as a top priority, DeKalb County will struggle to heal from corruption,” Davis said in a statement.
UPDATE 1 and CORRECTION: A previous version of the title of this article incorrectly stated that Ellis was found guilty of extortion. In fact, and as the article correctly stated, he was found guilty of attempted extortion in perjury.