The indictment includes:
four counts of criminal attempt to commit theft by extortion
two counts of conspiracy in restraint of free and open competition
two counts of criminal attempt to commit false statements and writings
three counts of theft by taking
one count of conspiracy to defraud a political subdivision
three counts of coercion of other employee to give anything of value for political purposes.
During the January search, police detectives took items such as vehicles registered in Ellis’ name, handwriting samples, personal and business financial records, safety deposit box keys or documentation, cell phones, electronic storage devices, all documents pertaining to contracts with DeKalb County and consulting agreements with vendors doing business or attempting to do business with the county.
Regarding the four counts of extortion, Ellis is accused of unlawfully attempting to obtain campaign contributions from CIBER Inc. and Power and Energy Services, Inc. According to representatives from those companies, when they refused to donate funds to Ellis’ campaign, Ellis threatened to end their business relationship with DeKalb County.
Ellis has maintained his innocence since January’s search.
According to his chief Spokeswoman Jill Strickland Luse, the CEO has put in place a strong team and that team and Ellis will continue to do the work necessary in leading the county.
“Our focus is on addressing the priorities and services that our stakeholders rely on every day,” said Luse in a statement.
Regarding Ellis’ continued work with the county, Gov. Nathan Deal is reviewing the indictment and there is a 14-day waiting period before he can form a panel to review whether or not Ellis should remain in office or face suspension, according to Deal’s spokesman Brian Robinson.
The panel will be made up of the Attorney General and two peer officials from other counties who will determine if Ellis should remain in office. If it recommends suspension, the governor then decides whether or not to suspend. Also, if Ellis is suspended — according to DeKalb’s code — the commission chair will become CEO. DeKalb County’s equivalent of a board of commission chair is District 5 Commissioner Lee May, who is the presiding officer of the board.
In his statement, May said it was a sad day for DeKalb and the ongoing saga has been a distraction and continues to bring unwelcome negative publicity to the county and government.
“Like all citizens of DeKalb, I pray that there will be a quick resolution to these issues,” said May. “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.”