DeKalb detectives search county CEO's home



DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Detectives from the DeKalb District Attorney's Office searched the home and county offices of CEO Burrell Ellis on Monday morning.

Three unmarked police cars were parked outside Ellis' home shortly after 10 a.m. Channel 2's Richard Elliot was outside the Southland subdivision in Stone Mountain as detectives brought several boxes into the house. Ellis’ 83-year-old mother was at the home during the search, and officers escorted her to a neighbor’s home to be checked out by the neighbor’s wife, who is a nurse.

Three hours after they walked into the house, investigators emerged with boxes of documents and files and one home computer but declined to discuss their findings. Channel 2’s Jodie Fleischer learned investigators went to five county offices looking for records relating to Ellis.

At the county finance department, investigators wanted his American Express Card records, and at the elections office, they wanted his campaign finance disclosure records.

At purchasing, investigators wanted contracts for companies represented by Kevin Ross, Ellis' close friend, advisor and former campaign manager. Two and a half years ago, Ross admitted suggesting Ellis cancel several contracts belonging to competitors, but Ellis said he was not unduly influenced by Ross. The final search warrant Monday was at Ross' office.

The search came on the same day as Ellis testified before a special civil grand jury investigating county watershed operations. The investigation is probing a wide range of allegations from alleged bribes to contract improprieties.

Outside the courthouse where he testified, Ellis wouldn’t go into details regarding his testimony but said he was truthful.

“I don’t believe I can discuss that. Obviously, we’ve been here before. We’ve answered questions truthfully and honestly, straightforward. And I’ve always directed my folks to cooperate with the grand jury and make sure that they get all the answers,” Ellis told Channel 2.

He maintained his innocence at a news conference shortly before 1 p.m., adding that he doesn't know whether he's being targeted.

"I haven’t done anything that I’m aware of  --  nor has my staff done anything that I’m aware of  --  that’s inappropriate," Ellis said.

He said the search was a surprise and that he received a copy of the search warrant when he finished testifying before the grand jury.

“I’ve wracked my brain. I can’t imagine anything in my home that’d be of interest to the grand jury, or in my office," Ellis said.

He said he was told he will receive a list of anything taken during the search.

“I’m not sure why they chose to do it this way, but they did, and they have that right, and we’ll continue to be cooperative," he said.

Fleischer caught up with DeKalb COO Richard Stogner at Ellis’ office in Decatur, where he said he was looking for answers. Stogner also testified before the grand jury, but said he wasn’t asked about Ellis.

“Most of it had to do with water sewer stuff before he took the CEO’s job,” Stogner told Fleischer.

Ellis took his oath of office for a second term Thursday. He was first elected in 2008.

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