A careful reading of the many search warrants and items seized in a DeKalb County corruption investigation last week points to a grand jury and district attorney scrutinizing contracts canceled and awarded on an emergency basis.
The county chief executive, Burrell Ellis, has that power under the organizational act and can avoid approval by the county commission.
The warrants also seek information on specific contracts with specific companies.
The Crier has obtained a list of what investigators seized from Ellis’ home and office. They track the items in the search warrants.
For instance, the warrants for both Ellis and Kevin Ross, a political operative, consultant and attorney, seek records on the DeKalb County probation services contract, the county lobbying contract, watershed management and Rural Metro Ambulance among others.
In the list of items seized are “upper right drawer: Probation Services Contract Folder.” Another item is labeled “Care ambulance” folder and another is labeled “Emergency Ambulance RFP.” Still another is called “Dept. of Purchasing, Contracting, Campaign Donor Contribution Summary, campaign.”
The larger issue seems to be the $1 billion watershed management capital improvement project.
One difference between the Ellis warrants and the warrant for Ross lies in two lines in the Fulton County Superior Court warrant. It asks for “any and all documents pertaining to claims of ownership of any real properties; any and all documents pertaining to claims of ownership of any businesses.”
It expands beyond asking for ownership data all documents pertaining to contracts with DeKalb County or vendor contracts with DeKalb County and any an all consulting agreements with vendors doing business, or attempting to do business with the county.
As is the case with the Ellis search, it specifies “DeKalb lobbying contract(s), DeKalb County Watershed Management, DeKalb County Watershed Capital Improvement Program, DeKalb County ambulance services contract and all documents associated with Sentinel Probation Services, Montgomery Watson, Rural Metro Ambulance, Massey-Bowers, and the Ferguson Group.”
The Crier has not obtained a list of what eventually was seized from the office and home of Kevin Ross.
The potential charges outlined in the warrants include RICO (racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations), extortion, bribery, theft by taking, influencing of officer or employee of state or political subdivision, conspiracy in restraint of free and open competition, wire fraud, theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, bid rigging and fraud related to currency.
The warrants were served as Ellis was testifying before a civil grand jury that for more than a year had been investigating county contracts but was believed to be focusing on contracts of less than $50,000 approved by the county operating officer, Richard Stogner, and the former chief executive Vernon Jones. Such contracts don’t require approval of the county commission.