Court filing: Insider says district attorney committed crimes during Ellis investigation

by: Jodie Fleischer Updated:

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. —

Attorneys for ousted DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis filed an explosive court document today, alleging District Attorney Robert James committed crimes during his investigation of Ellis. Insiders say it could be a serious blow to the pending corruption case.

A grand jury indicted Ellis in June on 15 counts, including extortion and theft, based largely on recordings of the CEO allegedly interfering in the awarding of county contracts and shaking down county vendors for campaign contributions.

Ellis' attorneys say much of the evidence against him was gathered illegally and they say their source is someone inside the district attorney's own office.

The new filing asks a judge to dismiss the Ellis indictment and instead to call in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for a criminal probe of James' actions, saying he committed "numerous gross abuses of power and individual rights."

The court filing says James struck a deal with County Contracts and Purchasing Director Kelvin Walton.

For Walton to avoid his own prosecution, he had to help nail Ellis by recording his conversations.

The district attorney insider told Ellis' lawyers that Walton used spy equipment, including a wristwatch and pen, to make the recordings "without CEO Ellis' knowledge or consent, in locations in which Ellis possessed an expectation of privacy."

Walton even recorded Ellis' conversations with third parties "in willful violation of Georgia's Unlawful Surveillance and Eavesdropping statute."

The filing also accuses Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May, who replaced Ellis, of conspiring with the DA by supplying $150,000 in county funds to purchase the surveillance equipment.

"The allegations against Interim CEO Lee May are outlandish and wrong," said May's Senior Advisor Edmond Richardson. "He is in no way connected to this ongoing criminal case, and it is shameful his good character is being unfairly and inaccurately represented in this court motion."

The filing alleges that James, "wanted to increase his reputation and political prospects by bringing down CEO Ellis, and wanted to assist his friend and political ally [then] DeKalb County Commission Chairman Lee May in the process."

Ellis's attorneys call the allegations against the district attorney "profoundly disturbing, willful, unjust and illegal."

The document alleges a district attorney insider told Ellis' attorneys that James "had it in for CEO Ellis" and says James directed "enormous resources" toward the Ellis case, which caused James to '"ail to investigate or prosecute and to dismiss many other serious criminal cases" during that time frame.

A spokesman for District Attorney Robert James said he had no comment on this new filing, or the personal accusations.

A hearing scheduled in the case is scheduled for Jan. 23.