A DeKalb County Superior Court judge has set an Aug. 19 date for the trial of suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis, who is accused of theft, conspiracy and extortion.
Ellis was indicted June 18 and shortly thereafter, suspended by Gov. Nathan Deal until the outcome of the trial or the end of his term of office. Deal replaced Ellis with DeKalb County Commissioner Lee May.
Recently, Ellis’ attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the case on grounds that District Attorney Robert James abused his authority when indicting Ellis. A judge has yet to rule on that motion.
A pretrial motions hearing is scheduled for Aug. 9. Ellis’ attorneys have asked for a continuance to allow more time to prepare for trial.
Ellis’ indictment reportedly stems from information investigators found while searching his home in January. While his home was being searched, Ellis was testifying before a special purpose grand jury impaneled to investigate allegations of corruption in the county’s watershed department.
In their motion to dismiss the case, Ellis’ attorneys accuse James of using a special purpose grand jury to obtain evidence or information to use against Ellis in an indictment. The motion also states that the DA’s office issued subpoenas for Ellis to testify before the grand jury and made false representations that Ellis was not a target of the investigation.
Erik Burton, a spokesman for James, said, “We stand ready for trial and we stand by our indictment.”
The indictment against Ellis describes pay-to-play scheme in which he allegedly tried to strong-arm county vendors by telling them that if they didn’t donate to his campaign, their work from the county would come to a halt.
None of the companies named in the indictment have spoken up about the allegations but an email sent from attorneys representing Power & Energy Services said the company has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars on projects it should have gotten.
The email doesn’t mention Ellis by name but states: “Most disturbing of the events that have taken place has been the systematic exclusion of our client from providing services to DeKalb County under the terms of the contract when, after being requested to make campaign contributions to DeKalb County officials, and their refusal they were told by other related DeKalb County officials that they had been instructed not to give our client the contractual work for which they were awarded.”
The attorneys also state in the email that once they inquired about Power & Energy’s treatment from the county, all of its work dried up.
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