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Ellis indictment just latest DeKalb County scandal

1:22 AM, Jun 20, 2013   |    comments
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  • DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis after bonding out of jail
  • Home of DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis being raided in January
  • Six DeKalb County School Board members replaced by Governor Deal (highlighted)
  • Former DeKalb County School Superintendent Crawford Lewis
    

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -- The man who became DeKalb County's top politician four years ago as a reformer has been under a cloud of suspicion since his home and office were raided last January.

MORE | DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis indicted on 15 counts

But after he bonded out of jail Tuesday night, DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis insisted he's innocent of corruption charges.

"I've done nothing wrong and I would never, ever, ever do anything to violate the public trust," Ellis said.

Ellis surrendered after being indicted on 15 extortion, theft and conspiracy charges.

He's accused of strong arming companies doing business with the county for campaign contributions and threatening to fire them if they didn't comply.

It's just the latest scandal to hit DeKalb in just the past few years.

Former School Superintendent Crawford Lewis is still awaiting trial on his 2010 indictment for racketeering charges.

He's accused of taking kickbacks on school construction contracts.

Last December, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools put DeKalb on academic "probation" thanks to a dysfunctional, infighting school board.

In March, Governor Nathan Deal replaced 6 of the 9 school board members.

And now Ellis is indicted for alleged corruption.

All of this leaves many DeKalb County taxpayers' heads spinning.

"I don't know why there's so much corruption; it's terrible," DeKalb resident April Tucker told 11 Alive News on Wednesday.

"I feel very upset because one looks up to these people and expects them to always be honest," said resident Michael Barlow.

"When these kind of things happen, it doesn't just affect those involved, it just kinda puts a black eye on the county as a whole," said resident Carl Grimes.

DeKalb County Commission Chairman Lee May, who could be named acting CEO if Governor Deal replaces Ellis, issued a statement saying, "This is a sad day for DeKalb County."

He called the indictment a distraction that "continues to bring unwelcome negative publicity to our county and government."

May would not do an on camera interview, however.

Meanwhile, Governor Deal will soon appoint a special panel to look into whether Ellis should be suspended while he awaits trial.

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