We’ve been wondering about this one for a while.
A federal court unsealed an indictment against a couple of businessmen in South Carolina late last year. in which the feds appear to have captured at least two days of secret recordings between the defendants – Jonathon Pinson and Eric Robinson – and the guy with the money, since revealed to be convicted Florida developer Richard Zahn. Two of the charges involved a kickback scheme with “an elected official” in DeKalb.
Yesterday, that official was revealed to be DeKalb County Commissioner Stan Watson. Prosecutors showed Watson’s picture to the jury. Watson has not been charged with a crime, and denies involvement. “I know nothing about that. I have no idea,” Watson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday. “No one subpoenaed me. I’m not indicted. I have no other comment.”
Neither the indictment nor the recent hearings in court revealed what Pinson or Robinson wanted or whether they were successful. However … let me hazard a rank, speculative guess.
Zahn stepped down as CEO of ZMG Construction in February, as he was pleading guilty to federal charges in a related case. A quick search of DeKalb County’s permitting records shows that ZMG Construction worked on only one project in the county – the renovation of the Landmark at Banyan Bay apartment complex in unincorporated Doraville.
That apartment complex is in two county commission districts; Elaine Boyer’s, and Stan Watson’s superdistrict.
Boyer faces an entirely different set of ethics issues right now, including the inappropriate use of her county-issued purchasing card for personal expenses. The county’s ethics board meets today to discuss her case, which has metastasized into a wide-ranging look at P-Card abuses by the commission. Commissioner Sharon Barnes-Sutton has similarly come under fire for her use of her county card. The FBI has reportedly begun investigating the matter.
With Lee May serving at interim county CEO after Burrell Ellis’ indictment and removal, charges against Boyer, Barnes-Sutton and Watson would leave the commission down four of its seven members. Commissioners plan to replace May with an appointment later this year … but one has to wonder at this point if the commission has the moral authority to appoint anyone when half the board faces significant ethics questions.