Burrell Ellis

Breaking
10:49 am
Wed July 1, 2015

Suspended DeKalb CEO Ellis Found Guilty In Corruption Retrial

A jury of six men and six women found suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis guilty of one count of attempted extortion and three counts of perjury on Wednesday.
Credit Kent D. Johnson, Pool / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Updated at 4:30 p.m.

After six days of deliberating, a jury on Wednesday found suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis guilty of attempted extortion and perjury on charges he tried to strong-arm county vendors for donations to his political campaign.

As the verdict was read, Ellis and his wife showed little emotion. The suspended CEO was taken immediately into custody following the verdict. Judge Courtney Johnson set his sentencing for next Wednesday.

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Ellis Retrial
12:30 pm
Thu June 25, 2015

Suspended DeKalb CEO Retrial: Case Now In Jury's Hands

Attorneys in the corruption retrial of suspended CEO Burrell Ellis gave closing statements Wednesday, with the judge handing over the case to the jury in the late afternoon.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

After 11 days of testimony, attorneys gave closing statements Wednesday in the corruption retrial of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis.

Both sides played off three words the state used in their opening statement to describe Ellis: debt, desperation and deceit.

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Ellis Retrial
3:39 pm
Tue June 23, 2015

Suspended DeKalb CEO Finishes Testimony, Defense Rests Case

Suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis completed testimony Tuesday in his corruption retrial, with his defense team resting its case a few hours later.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

After four days on the witness stand, suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis ended testimony Tuesday in his corruption retrial, with his defense team resting its case a few hours later. 

During the morning's cross-examination, District Attorney Robert James picked up where he left off Monday. He tried repeatedly to use Ellis’ words against him, relying on the suspended CEO’s testimony during his first trial, as well as secret recordings of Ellis by the state via the then-head of the county purchasing and contracting department. Still, Ellis continued to defend his honesty.

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Local
7:45 pm
Mon June 22, 2015

Suspended DeKalb CEO Keeps Composure In Cross-Examination

Facing tough questioning from the district attorney, suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis defended his honesty on the witness stand Monday during his corruption retrial.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

State attorneys got their chance Monday to question suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis in his corruption retrial, with prosecutors trying routinely to catch Ellis in a lie.

But the suspended CEO remained composed and confident as he justified his actions to the jury and rebuffed District Attorney Robert James’ tough, rapid questioning. Ellis maintained his honesty throughout, only going so far to say he once may have “misspoken.”

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Ellis Retrial
2:38 pm
Fri June 19, 2015

Suspended DeKalb CEO Continues Testimony In Corruption Trial

Suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis again took the stand Friday in county superior court to continue testimony in his corruption retrial.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis, who’s accused of strong-arming county vendors for political donations, took the stand in his corruption retrial once again Friday morning to continue telling his side of the story.

Almost sentence by sentence, Ellis’s attorney walked the suspended CEO through some of the secretly recorded conversations that make up the bulk of the state’s case against him. As he did in his first trial, Ellis stressed any issue he had with vendors was about responsiveness and respect for the CEO’s office, not about campaign donations.

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Ellis Retrial
3:26 pm
Thu June 18, 2015

Suspended DeKalb CEO Presents His Story On Witness Stand

Suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis took the stand Thursday in county superior court to testify in his own defense. Ellis faces nine felony charges over allegations he tried to pressure county vendors of political donations.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

  Just as he did in his first corruption trial, suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis today took the stand in his retrial to refute charges he strong-armed county vendors for campaign donations.

On the stand, Ellis began painting a very different picture of his interactions with four county vendors who testified against him earlier in the trial.

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News
6:15 pm
Wed June 17, 2015

Prosecutors Rest Case In Burrell Ellis Corruption Trial

Prosecutors rested their case Wednesday in the seventh day of the retrial of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis. Ellis is accused of pressuring county vendors for political contributions.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Prosecutors rested their case Wednesday in the seventh day of the retrial of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis. 

The state called a number of witnesses – from county investigators to former county employees – painting a picture of Ellis having a pattern of pressuring county vendors.

Two years ago, Ellis was indicted on corruption charges. He’s accused of shaking down vendors who worked for the county to donate to his 2012 political campaign.

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Burrell Ellis Retrial
3:58 pm
Thu June 11, 2015

Witness: Ellis 'Like A Bully On The Playground'

Suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis sits silently during the third day of witness testimony Thursday in county superior court.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Like a playground bully who says, “Bring me your lunch money, or else.”

That’s how one of the state’s witnesses described his dealings with suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis Thursday, the third day of testimony in the elected county head’s corruption retrial.

Greg Shealey and his wife, Trina Shealey, were called into a meeting with Ellis back in October 2012 about issues with their company’s responsiveness. The couple own National Property Institutes, which had a $1 million contract with DeKalb County to buy and fix foreclosed homes.

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News
4:41 pm
Wed June 10, 2015

Burrell Ellis Defense Keys In On State Witness' Credibility

Kelvin Walton, a top witness in the state's case against suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis, continued his testimony Wednesday in Superior Court.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Defense attorneys for suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis got their chance to grill one of the state’s key witnesses, using their cross examination to hammer at credibility issues.

Kelvin Walton, who oversaw county service contracts under Ellis, resumed his testimony Wednesday in the retrial of the suspended CEO. Walton was allegedly Ellis’ right hand man, helping the CEO strong-arm county vendors for donations to pay back the debt he racked up during his 2012 re-election campaign.  

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Local
6:00 am
Wed June 10, 2015

Credibility An Issue With Key State Witness In Ellis Trial

Kelvin Walton, the former head of DeKalb County's purchasing and contracting department, served as the state's star witness in the first trial against suspended CEO Burrell Ellis. Walton took the stand for the retrial Tuesday, but his credibility was questioned by attorneys on both sides.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The state wasted no time in bringing its star witness to the stand in the retrial of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis.

Tuesday the state and Ellis’ attorneys said Kelvin Walton, the man who oversaw vendor contracts under Ellis, lied. Specifically, he lied under oath to a grand jury in 2012 about receiving gifts from contractors.

Ellis’ attorney, Craig Gillen, talked about Walton during opening statements.

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Local
3:28 pm
Tue June 9, 2015

Attorneys Make Opening Statements in Ellis Corruption Retrial

Attorney Craig Gillen, who represents suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis, tells the jury Ellis is innocent of the bribery, extortion and perjury charges the district attorney is bringing against him.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Lawyers in the retrial of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis delivered opening statements Tuesday in county superior court, with the state and defense painting very different images of the county’s elected chief.  

In addressing the jury first, Assistant District Attorney Lawanda Hodges asked the six men and six women to return a guilty verdict on every felony charge the DA’s office is bringing against Ellis. She said the prosecution’s case would be framed by three main themes: “debt, desperation and deceit.”

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Local
12:38 pm
Fri June 5, 2015

Jury Seated In Retrial Of Suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis

Attorneys seated a jury Friday in the retrial of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis. The jury is split evenly between men and women.
Credit Kent D. Johnson, Pool

A jury has been seated in the retrial of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis, who’s accused of using his office to shake down county contractors for campaign donations.

Attorneys selected six men and six women to sit on the jury. Seven of them are African-American, while the remaining five are white. Four alternates were also chosen, all of whom are women.

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Burrell Ellis
6:00 am
Fri June 5, 2015

Attorneys Expect To Seat Jury For Ellis Retrial In DeKalb

Attorneys expect to seat a jury by Friday in the retrial of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis, right.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Friday is expected to be the final day of jury selection in the retrial of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis.

After a week of culling through potential jurors, attorneys have narrowed the field down from about 200 to a few dozen. They’ll likely get that number down to the 12 jurors plus alternates needed for the trial to begin.

In his second trial, Ellis faces nine felony charges over allegations he was running a pay-to-play scheme with DeKalb County contractors, asking them to submit donations to his 2012 re-election campaign in exchange for business.

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Local
3:45 pm
Mon June 1, 2015

Jury Selection Underway In Retrial Of DeKalb CEO Ellis

Jury selection got underway today in DeKalb County Superior Court for the retrial of suspended CEO Burrell Ellis.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Jury selection began today in DeKalb County Superior Court for the retrial of suspended county CEO Burrell Ellis.

Around 40 of the 200 or so potential jurors stood for questioning by the judge, prosecution and defense attorneys. Those who’d been called were asked whether they had prior knowledge of the case or had followed any coverage of Ellis’ first trial last fall.

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Local
6:00 am
Mon June 1, 2015

Second Burrell Ellis Trial Starts In DeKalb County

Suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis' second trial starts Monday in DeKalb County Superior Court. Last year his first trial ended in a mistrial.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis’ second trial starts Monday in DeKalb County Superior Court.

Ellis is accused of shaking down county contractors for donations to his 2012 re-election campaign. In his first trial last fall, he faced 13 felony counts of extortion, bribery, perjury and using county employees for campaign work.

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A Closer Look
4:37 pm
Fri May 8, 2015

DeKalb Interim CEO Lee May Pressured Into Resigning Seat

Lee May, left, has been interim CEO of DeKalb County for almost two years, leaving his constituents without representation on the DeKalb County Commission. May resigned his seat Friday.
Credit Lisa George / WABE

The tangled and bitter battle over Interim CEO Lee May’s District 5 seat on the DeKalb County Commission may be nearing an end.

May announced the resignation of his commission seat in a press conference on Friday morning, after telling WABE in March he had no plans to give up his seat.

May said he changed his mind after complaints from some of the constituents in his district about the lack of representation for such a long time.

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Local
6:32 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

Witness Credibility Issues Complicate DeKalb Corruption Cases

The prosecution's case against DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis relied heavily on Kelvin Walton, shown above.
Credit Kent Johnson/AJC

Two major DeKalb County corruption cases are in jeopardy. Part of the reason is the prosecution’s star witnesses have struggled with credibility issues.

It’s a constant dilemma for prosecutors – how much to rely on witnesses with questionable character.

DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis is accused of shaking down county contractors for campaign donations. During the trial, DeKalb's former purchasing director Kelvin Walton was the state’s star witness. Walton cooperated with prosecutors only after being caught accepting gifts from contractors and lying under oath.

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Local
4:22 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

Cynicism Among DeKalb Residents Remains High Following Ellis Trial

Suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Consitution

It’s been an eventful week in DeKalb County. The corruption case of suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis ended with a hung jury. And a much-anticipated audit showed lax oversight of commissioner spending.

Some DeKalb residents have resigned themselves to a certain level of impropriety, while others see light at the end of the tunnel.

DeKalb politics has been anything but dull - kickback schemes, federal probes, forced-out school board members, and most tragically an assassination of the county’s sheriff-elect.  

So it makes sense residents would be a bit cynical.

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Local
3:51 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Residents Offer Sharply Differing Views On Ellis Mistrial

Suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis.
Credit facebook.com/burrellellis2012

The corruption case of suspended DeKalb County CEO ended Tuesday in a mistrial and DeKalb residents have sharply differing reactions.

Many took issue with the jury itself, which after two weeks of deliberation couldn’t agree on any of the 13 felony charges. The judge in the case repeatedly scolded the jury to get past personal issues and at one point told them to act like adults.

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Local
4:38 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Judge Declares Mistrial in Ellis Case

Burrell Ellis during the trial
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A DeKalb County judge Tuesday declared a mistrial in the case against suspended county CEO Burrell Ellis. Ellis is accused of shaking down county contractors for campaign contributions. He maintained his innocence during the trial and took the stand to defend himself. 

The all-female jury deliberated for 11 days, but couldn’t reach verdicts on any of the 13 felony charges against Ellis. DeKalb County judge Courtney Johnson had repeatedly urged the jurors to try harder to come to consensus. Those efforts ultimately failed. 

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Burrell Ellis Corruption Trial
3:29 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Judge Issues Allen Charge to Burrell Ellis Jurors: What Does That Mean?

DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer Burrell Ellis has been suspended since his indictment in June 2013.

The jury in the corruption trial of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis is wrapping up its eleventh day of deliberations. Monday, the judge gave the jury what is known as an Allen charge.

  DeKalb Superior Court Judge Courtney Johnson had already instructed the jury to keep deliberating twice when they said they couldn’t reach a verdict.

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Local
7:21 am
Wed October 15, 2014

DeKalb Commission Frees Up Money for Ethics Board

Members of the DeKalb County Board of Ethics (shown here) have tabled complaints against former county staffers Kelvin Walton and Nina Hall. Walton resigned and Hall was fired after their testimony in the corruption trial of suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis.
Credit Lisa George/WABE News

The DeKalb County Commission has freed up $90,000 in funding for the county ethics board, which was reconstituted just last year to deal with mounting ethics issues.

DeKalb Interim CEO Lee May very publicly announced in June he was getting his fellow commissioners to allocate money for a Chief Integrity Officer, an investigator and an assistant, three full-time employees to help clean up the county’s ethics problems.

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Politics
4:14 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

Fate Of Ellis Now In Jury's Hands

Suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis.
Credit facebook.com/burrellellis2012

After three weeks of testimony, attorneys for both sides in Burrell Ellis’ corruption trial delivered their closing arguments Monday. Whether Ellis goes to prison or retains his position as DeKalb County CEO is now up to a jury.

Ellis faces charges of extortion and bribery, the latter of which carries a sentence of up to 20 years. Three county contractors testified Ellis shook them down for campaign donations. Another contractor testified Ellis wanted a bribe of $25,000.

Ellis denies all wrongdoing and his lawyers claim the charges are politically-motivated.

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Local
1:59 pm
Fri October 3, 2014

Burrell Ellis Denies Cutting Vendor Contract As Trial Winds Down

Suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis on the witness stand Friday.

Both sides in the corruption trial of suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis rested their case this afternoon. It came shortly after Ellis concluded his third day on the witness stand. He remained defiant, denying he shook down county vendors for campaign donations and insisting his comments on wiretaps are being taken out of context.

DeKalb District Attorney Robert James played a wiretap that includes Ellis saying he told his deputy Kelvin Walton to cut the contract of a vendor - Austell-based Power and Energy Services - that had refused to donate.

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Local
2:14 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

Ellis Denies Retaliating Against Those Who Refused To Donate

Suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis on the witness stand Thursday.

Updated 4:10 p.m.

Suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis and DeKalb District Attorney Robert James squared off for the first time Thursday in Ellis’ corruption trial. James grilled Ellis over allegations he shook down county vendors for campaign contributions.  

Under cross-examination, Ellis denied strong-arming vendors and insisted any issues between him and vendors were over poor customer service and unreturned phone calls, not donations. 

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Local
1:20 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

Ellis Takes Stand Seeking To Refute Corruption Charges

Suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis on the witness stand.

Updated: 5:06 p.m.

After more than two weeks of listening to prosecutors make their case, suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis got the chance Wednesday to tell his side of the story.

Ellis is on trial for allegedly shaking down county vendors for campaign contributions, then lying about it under oath.

On the witness stand, Ellis insisted he never strong-armed vendors for donations.

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Local
5:50 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

As Defense Calls First Witnesses, Ellis Confirms He’ll Testify

Suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis.
Credit facebook.com/burrellellis2012

Supporters of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis took the stand Tuesday for the first time in his corruption trial.

Several high-profile figures testified, and more are to come, including Ellis himself.

It was an open question whether Ellis would take the stand. Before the defense called its first witness, the judge wanted a direct answer from Ellis.

Judge Courtney Johnson: Do you personally want to testify or not?

Ellis: Yes.

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Local
6:05 am
Tue September 30, 2014

Ellis Defense To Begin Calling Witnesses

Suspended Dekalb County CEO Burrell Ellis.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Consitution

Lawyers defending suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis in his corruption trial are expected to call their first witnesses Tuesday.

So far, only witnesses supporting the prosecution’s case have taken the stand.

Among the witnesses expected to testify for Ellis are Congressman Hank Johnson and former DeKalb school board chair Eugene Walker. Ellis’ wife may also testify. Still unclear is whether Burrell Ellis, himself, will take the stand.

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Local
5:41 pm
Fri September 26, 2014

Ellis Defense Paints Key Witness As Untrustworthy

Suspended Dekalb County CEO Burrell Ellis.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Consitution

Lawyers defending suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis against corruption charges finished questioning the state’s star witness Friday.  

Ellis defense attorney Craig Gillen asked DeKalb purchasing director Kelvin Walton whether Ellis ever ordered him to retaliate against contractors that didn’t give political donations.

Gillen: There was never an occasion where Mr. Ellis would say to you, 'gee, I don’t like so-so, do not pay them.' That never happened, did it? 

Walton: No.

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Local
4:27 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

Ellis Defense Grills State’s Star Witness

Judge Courtney L. Johnson talks with defense attorney Craig Gillen (left) Tuesday.
Credit Kent Johnson/AJC

The defense team for suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis got its first chance Thursday to cross-examine the state’s star witness in Ellis' corruption trial. It comes after two days of testimony from DeKalb purchasing director Kelvin Walton, who for months wore a wire for prosecutors.  

Ellis defense attorney Craig Gillen was quick to make sure the jury knew Walton had already lied under oath prior to Ellis’ trial.

Gillen: During the course of your session before the special purpose grand jury on May the 2nd you willfully lied several times didn’t you, sir?

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