Ex-commissioner pleads guilty

Stan Watson

Former DeKalb County Commissioner Stan Watson, who was arrested in June for misusing public funds, pleaded guilty to theft by conversion Oct. 25 in a pretrial hearing.
The guilty plea was in connection with handling of funds totaling approximately $3,000.  

According to the DeKalb County District Attorney’s office, DeKalb Superior Court Judge Asha Jackson reduced the charge against Watson, 68, to a misdemeanor. The state had requested that Watson serve five years probation.

“We will not stand for corruption within our county government. This defendant stole from the citizens of DeKalb County by taking funds intended for legitimate business purposes and converting that money to personal use,” said District Attorney Sherry Boston.  “Elected officials should be held to a higher standard of responsibility and accountability to the citizens whom they are elected to serve.”

Jackson ordered Watson to perform 150 hours of community service and barred him from conducting business with or for DeKalb County for the duration of his probation sentence. Watson was sentenced as a first-time offender.

Watson was originally charged with a felony, but during court proceeding entered a non-negotiated guilty plea and asked the court “to use its discretion under the law and reduce the charge against him.”

Watson was sentenced to one-year probation for his crime.

In January 2016, Watson received advance checks for travel expenses related to upcoming business conferences. But Watson, who served as commissioner for District 7, resigned before attending the conferences to run for DeKalb County tax commissioner in March 2016. Watson then used the funds for personal expenses.

Last October, the FBI’s Public Corruption Unit interviewed Watson, who admitted the funds should be paid back. However, Watson did not repay the estimated $3,000 until March 2017. According to DeKalb County policy, funds advanced to an individual that are unused should be repaid to the county immediately.

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