Another public corruption investigation involves an unnamed DeKalb County politician in a federal bribery case that stretches across three Southern states.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that a 51-count indictment against South Carolina businessmen Jonathon Pinson and Eric Robinson includes two counts of fraud for a kickback scheme involving “an elected official” in DeKalb. No one in DeKalb has been charged in the case.
The businessmen are accused of racketeering, bribery and theft.
Tuesday, the AJC reported, the six sitting county commissioners and interim CEO Lee May, who was a commissioner during the 2011 incidents, denied being that official, called a “councilman” in the indictment.
“I can’t believe there is another cloud rising with DeKalb County’s name to it,” May said told the paper. “It’s another black eye at a time when my biggest heartburn is how to build confidence back in our government.”
Allegations against the South Carolina men include kickbacks — which they called “love offerings” — and bribes that the FBI caught on wiretaps in the case, according to the paper.
Among the alleged crimes caught is a plan “to pay a purported kickback” to that unnamed DeKalb official. There are at least two days’ of covert recordings that relate to DeKalb.
The scheme called for Florida developer Rick Zahn to pay the bribes to the DeKalb official in exchange for expected favorable treatment, the paper reported, citing the indictment.
“I have no idea what it’s about, but it absolutely does not involve me,” said Commissioner Stan Watson.
Watson and May both acknowledge knowing Robinson from his management of Arizona’s Steakhouse at Stonecrest Mall, which is in their districts.
The DeKalb County district attorney’s office is aware of the county’s role in the case and is conducting its own investigation, a spokeswoman for the office told the AJR.
The job will likely fall to the DA’s public integrity unit, which brought a political corruption case against suspended CEO Burrell Ellis last year.
Ellis’ trial for allegedly strong-arming county vendors for campaign cash and punishing those who didn’t give is scheduled for June.