Indicted Snellville mayor steps down from office to work on defense

He's facing dozens of charges

SNELLVILLE, GA. - Snellville Mayor Thomas Witts has suspended himself from office after being indicted on dozens of charges, including misusing campaign funds.

Witts, who was elected in 2015, wasn't present at Monday night's Snellville City Council meeting. City Attorney Tony Powell read a statement on Witts' behalf, saying in part, "My decision to accept a suspension voluntarily is designed to get my issues out of the way so the other leaders can pick up our banner without the distraction of my defense."

A grand jury formally charged the 68-year-old mayor in early September with making false statements, concealing facts, theft by conversion, false swearing and tax evasion. He turned himself in to police on Sept. 7 and was later released on a $20,000 bond.

According to documents from Gwinnett County District Attorney's office, Witts is accused of filing false tax returns from 2011 to 2015, then filing false amendments to them. The documents then allege Witts lied about it under oath, stating the Snellville mayor knew he owed taxes.

Beyond that, the indictment said Witts used campaign funds for several years for personal use. According to the documents, the mayor and former city councilman used those funds to purchase cruises on Royal Caribbean, flights on Spirit and Delta Airlines and subscriptions to adult websites.

Witts says in the statement Mayor pro tem Barbara Bender will lead the City Council in his absence.

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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