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.”
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Right near the federal penitentiary on the south side of town, there’s a plot of land known as the old Atlanta Prison Farm. It’s owned by the city, but is outside the city limits in DeKalb County. That’s one reason the land is overgrown and the buildings have decayed, but a group called "Save the old Atlanta Prison Farm" hopes to turn the area into a park that could be one of the biggest in the region.
Frances Blackmon lives one house down in this quiet neighborhood. She said that, in the two decades or so she’s lived here, she’s never set foot on the property.
Voters could get a chance to create two new cities in DeKalb County later this year, after the Georgia General Assembly approved two proposals Thursday night. The proposed cities of Tucker and LaVista Hills made it through the state legislature after a last-minute compromise to the cities’ borders.
If the governor signs the bills, voters will decide on the cities in a November referendum.
Throughout the state legislative session, there were a total of five cityhood proposals in DeKalb County, including Stonecrest, Greenhaven and, then later, Winship.
A separate proposal would annex the Druid Hills neighborhood into Atlanta, including Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State Rep. Michele Henson, D-Stone Mountain, said the city of Winship proposal "is to show there are additional opportunities for DeKalb County."
DeKalb County’s interim CEO has appointed a special investigator to look into possible corruption in his administration.
Interim CEO Lee May wants a full investigation into the executive branch of DeKalb County government, saying as he made the announcement Wednesday, “Public cynicism continues to grow as the stench of corruption and distrust permeates our air.”
May is appointing former state Attorney General Mike Bowers to investigate county operations.
Peggy Ann Schnitzius, 77, looks inside a garbage bin while braving the cold weather in front of a frozen fountain in 2010 in downtown Atlanta. Dekalb County and the city of Atlanta are preparing for the winter weather this week by using recreation centers and some fire stations as warming centers and overnight shelters.
DeKalb County says all of its libraries and recreational centers are operating as warming centers during this cold snap. It’s also using four fire stations as overnight shelters. They are Fire Station No. 6, 8, 21 and 25.
Captain Sell Caldwell at Fire Station No. 8 on Clairmont Road says no one has come by yet, but he expects visitors on Wednesday night when temperatures will drop to 13 degrees.
DeKalb County Police Chief Cedric Alexander has a Ph.D. in psychology, and he is leader of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE).
President Barack Obama recently tapped Alexander to serve on the White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing, part of the administration's efforts to "strengthen community policing and strengthen trust among law enforcement officers and the communities they serve."