DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — After months of being in the spotlight for a federal fraud case, the City Stonecrest mayor said he would step down from his position.
Jason Lary made the announcement Tuesday during a virtual news conference. There were moments during Lary's news conference that were overtaken by others with random clips and songs playing.
He said he will step down on Wednesday, Jan. 5.
"I did the best that I could do with the abilities that God gave," he said.
In November, the Northern District of Georgia Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt Erskine said the mayor had been arraigned on federal charges for wire fraud, conspiracy and federal program theft. Officials said the charges are related to a scheme to allegedly steal federal relief funds granted to the city to help with the COVID-19 pandemic. A bookkeeper was also arraigned.
During Tuesday's news conference, Lary said he wanted to give background on how he came to the conclusion to resign. He opened up about his health struggles, including having to battle cancer three times. He also said he talked to his family about the decision.
"It's time for me to retire from politics, really focused on my health," he said.
"So in closing, I asked you all measuring the whole story as to what we had in place. I'm forever grateful for those residents who supported the vision that was implanted in me, by God, of course, allowing me to be the founding and first mayor," he added.
Last year, authorities claim that businesses were allegedly defrauded out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. About $6 million was expected to be allocated to the Stonecrest Cares Program and Small Business Program. However, Erskine said Stonecrest did not disburse the funds to the programs. Instead, the city contracted with Municipal Resource Partners Corporation, Inc. to provide accounting services and to disburse the relief funds as directed by Stonecrest. Lary is also accused of conspiring with the bookkeeper to steal relief funds before they were disbursed by MRPC.
In January 2021, the bookkeeper allegedly used her access to one of MRPC’s bank accounts to wire transfer about $108,000 to a mortgage servicing company. Lary and the bookkeeper allegedly knew the purpose of the transfer was to pay off the mortgage on a lakefront home he owned. Around the same time, officials said Lary allegedly directed about $7,600 to be paid by Visit Us for the bookkeeper’s son’s college tuition and rent.