Interim DeKalb CEO under FBI investigation

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Channel 2 Action News has confirmed the FBI is now investigating DeKalb County CEO Lee May for work done at his house that was paid for by taxpayers.

A Channel 2 Action News - Atlanta Journal Constitution investigation found May did not follow the county process after raw sewage backed up into his home four years ago when he was a commissioner.

"I didn't ask for any special treatment, nor was I aware that I received any special treatment. If I did, that's not something that's acceptable to me," May told Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer.

May went back and reviewed the process after Fleischer started asking questions and requesting records, and realized he was not treated the same way other county sewage mishap victims were treated.

"It was bad, it was bad," recounted May, "It was literally raw sewage coming up through the toilet."

May says he made several calls for help and county workers responded to stop the initial emergency back in December 2010. But the raw sewage that spilled into his home destroyed floors, drywall and baseboards in his garage, den and a bathroom.

"A firm came out by the name of Water Removal Services. I knew an individual connected to that," acknowledged May.

That individual was a man named Doug Cotter. At the time, Cotter was working for Water Removal Services, which was then-owned by John Meyer.

"[Cotter] was asking, 'This is a friend of mine. Would you mind helping him out?' Meyer told Fleischer, "So that's how this transpired, we never knew who Lee May was until recently."

Meyer's company sent out workers to make the repairs.

"At the time, I thought [May] was paying for it, so I thought we were supposed to just go out there and take care of it for what it cost our company," said Meyer, "It was about $2,500 I believe."

But six months later, Meyer still hadn't been paid. So his company emailed an invoice directly to DeKalb County purchasing director Kelvin Walton.

Fleischer asked Meyer who normally directs his company where to send a bill.

"Well, the person who owns the property," replied Meyer.

Records show within half an hour, May's invoice was approved and a check was cut the very next day for $6,495.

"We were paid in full for the services we done," said Meyer, "Even though we had a previous agreement, I thought maybe it changed and the county might have paid for it, I don't know, it was very odd."

Even more odd, DeKalb County does not pay repair companies directly, instead requiring homeowners to pay for the repairs and the county pays the homeowner.

The reimbursements are usually only 60 to 70 percent of the total cost. 

"As a public official, I would have been nervous to receive a county-drawn check directly to me for $6,400," said May.

Repair claims are usually only processed after the homeowner provides at least two estimates. The county has no record of any estimates in May's case.

"There were things done in the past that was loosey-goosey at best. Looking back now, I do understand that it was a different treatment than others had been given," said May.

It's FBI policy not to confirm or deny the existence of an ongoing investigation. However, several of the people Fleischer questioned said the FBI has questioned them as well.

The Money Trail

Channel 2 Action News has learned the work at May's home is just the beginning of an even bigger scandal.

Cotter, May's friend, who arranged the cleanup, went on to get hundreds of thousands of dollars in DeKalb County work.

When the former owner of Water Removal Services checked his old files, he found a $4,000 check made out to May, personally.

"Absolutely, I plan on having a conversation to figure out what the hell was that that was done, excuse my French. For someone to benefit off my name, that's inappropriate that's illegal, and they need to be dealt with," said May.