Former Gwinnett County Commissioner Kevin Kenerly pleaded No Contest to charges of bribery in Gwinnett Superior Court this afternoon, bringing to a close a series of scandals that forced the
resignation departure of three of the county’s top elected officials, including the Commission Chairman.
The AJC’s David Wickert has the story:
Kenerly pleaded “no contest” to a bribery charge, meaning did not admit he was guilty.
Superior Court Judge Karen Beyers accepted Kenerly’s plea and sentenced him to 10 years of probation and a $10,000 fine at the request of District Attorney Danny Porter.
As part of the plea deal, Porter drop two misdemeanor charges of failure to disclose a financial interest in two properties the county rezoned.
resignations downfall of the three commissioners–Kenerly, former Chairman Charles Bannister, and Shirley Lasseter–were related to alleged improper land deals and rezonings by the board.
In October 2010, Bannister resigned on the the day a grand jury wrapped up a long investigation into whether the county overpaid to purchase parkland.
Later that month, Kenerly was indicted on three counts of bribery after a special grand jury found he had allegedly taken $1 million from a developer in order facilitate another deal to purchase parkland. The indictment was ruled invalid, and he was charged in a second indictment in August, 2011.
In September, 2011, Commissioner Shirley Lasseter was arrested for taking a $35,000 bribe in order to approve a rezoning. She was later sentenced to a 33 month prison term.
The fallout from the investigations and arrests at one point led to only three commissioners running the county’s business – barely enough to make a quorum. The board also implemented new ethics policies intended to better show conflicts of interest before they became an issue.
Gwinnett appears to have learned its lesson under the leadership of Charlotte Nash. Lets hope it’s a lesson that stays learned.
Those seeking political excitement in the county that claims “Success Lives Here” can always look to Snellville.