(Note: here’s a copy of the indictment. An update with the response from DeKalb County commissioner Lee May is below.)
Essentially, the first two counts of State vs. W. Burrell Ellis accuse Ellis of attempting to extort campaign contributions from CIBER Inc., an IT consulting firm in Decatur and specifically its employee Joanne Wise. The indictment alleges that Ellis demanded a campaign contribution from Wise, and if she didn’t play ball he would withhold county work from her firm and tell her boss that her “poor customer service” was the reason why.
Counts three through seven pertain to similar alleged extortion attempts against Power and Energy Services, Inc. and its managers, Brandon and Danice Cummings. Power And Energy provides maintenance and repairs on LFG generator sets and related equipment, and apparently had been trying to sell generators to the county in September last year.
The fifth count allege a conspiracy between Ellis and Kevin Walton, DeKalb’s director of purchasing and contracting … and an unindicted co-conspirator. The sixth and seventh counts allege that Ellis told Walton to lie on written records, to say that the contractor didn’t return phone calls about county business. The business of the calls, according to the indictment, was actually a solicitation for campaign contributions.
In the eighth and ninth count, the indictment alleges that Ellis committed theft by taking, by allegedly telling Walton and other county employees to use county commission board meeting notes and records of county contractors to create campaign donor solicitation lists with contact information, the amount of money contractors were making from the county and other information, all while the employees were on the county’s clock. Ellis then allegedly told Walton to deliver the list to him at his offices at R.L. Brown Associates where he could make the solicitation calls on private property.
Counts ten through twelve are charges of theft of government services — the time of Ellis’ subordinates for doing campaign business on the government clock.
The last three counts involve National Property Institute LLC, which buys and rehabs foreclosed homes. The indictment alleges that Ellis told Walton to block NPI from receiving county contracts because the firm wouldn’t contribute to his reelection campaign.
The fourteenth and fifteenth count allege in charges of theft by taking and coercing an employee to give something of value for political purposes that Ellis told Chris Morris, director of the DeKalb County Community Development Department, to set up a meeting between NPI and Ellis because the folks from NPI weren’t responding to campaign solicitations. Ellis allegedly told Morris to attend the meeting on county time.
UPDATE: DEKALB COMMISSIONER LEE MAY’S RESPONSE TO CEO ELLIS INDICTMENT
DECATUR, GA – “This is a sad day for DeKalb County. While every person is clearly innocent until proven guilty, this ongoing saga has been a distraction and continues to bring unwelcome negative publicity to our county and government” said Commissioner May.
“Like all citizens of DeKalb, I pray that there will be a quick resolution to these issues. Regardless of the accusations of corruption in the CEO’s office, my fellow Commissioners and I are committed to keeping our focus on our duties and responsibilities as public servants. We remain steadfast in our commitment to bringing a better future to DeKalb County”, stated by Commissioner May.