DeKalb special grand jury recommends 12 for criminal investigation

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - A special grand jury report documenting alleged corruption in DeKalb County is now public and Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer got her hands on the first copy.

The report identifies names, including indicted CEO Burrell Ellis, but it also recommends several key public officials for further criminal investigation.

Ellis' attorneys have been fighting the release of the report over the last seven months.

"It lays out many more alleged crimes than we saw in his criminal indictment," said Fleischer.

She says the report also suggests there may be many more public officials and private contractors in trouble.

Fleischer said the only recommendation for indictment is now-suspended CEO Burrell Ellis. The report accused him of not only shaking down vendors, for campaign contributions, but also directing the cancellation of contracts to steer business elsewhere as Channel 2 Action News first exposed.

The report also says he dictated which individuals should be placed on selection committees for key contracts, and interfered with their final recommendations.

The grand jurors also said former CEO Vernon Jones should be criminally investigated for possible indictment on bid rigging and theft allegations. In statement to Channel 2 Action News, Jones said he felt the "report appears to be a political preface statement as to who should have been elected to run county government and has no factual foundation or legal basis to recommend any criminal investigation against me."

Former public safety director William Wiz Miller is also on the list. The report says he should be investigated for obstructing a criminal investigation.

Miller retired from DeKalb County in February after prosecutors executed search warrants at the homes and offices of Ellis and Kevin Ross.

Ross was Ellis' adviser and former campaign manager. He is also named for criminal investigation and possible indictment for interfering with contracts and bid rigging. Ross works as a consultant for several high profile vendors who do business in DeKalb County.

Ross' attorney has not returned our phone call.

Fleischer says the report also names Jabari Simama, who resigned as Ellis' chief of staff, and is now serving as president Georgia Piedmont Technical College.

By phone, Simama said he had not seen the report and has no comment at this time.

The report also mentions several former watershed department employees including former associate director Roy Barnes, no relation to the former governor.

The grand jurors recommended investigation of bid rigging, kickbacks, perjury and interfering with the selection of vendors.

Barnes now works as director of the water and sewer department for the city of East Point.

Former watershed employees Hadi Haeri and Nadine Maghsoudlou are recommended for investigation of theft, false writings, perjury and bid rigging.

Several private contractors who did business with DeKalb County are also listed for further criminal investigation. Those include Paul Champion, of Champion Tree Service, John Willis of Brown & Caldwell, Jeffrey Walker and Christian Vann.

The grand jurors also strongly recommended changing DeKalb County's form of government to eliminate the CEO position.

We'll have more details on this developing story tonight on the Channel 2 Action News Nightbeat at 11.



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