ATLANTA — A former DeKalb County commissioner learned her sentence Tuesday for extortion.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Sophia Choi was inside the courtroom as Sharon Barnes Sutton cried while she gave a statement, shortly before the judge gave her three years probation.
Barnes Sutton was convicted by a federal jury on two counts of extortion.
Prosecutors say she demanded two payments of $500 from a subcontractor, who feared he could lose a contract to build the county’s Snapfinger wastewater treatment plant.
The judge said she wrote down on a piece of paper $500 and mouthed the words “per month” to make that demand.
In a statement before the judge, Barnes Sutton broke down in tears, saying, “I am ashamed to be here in court. I never imagined in my life that I would be in a criminal trial accused of doing something wrong.”
In his sentencing, the judge noted that Barnes Sutton was not the center of criminal activity amongst leadership in DeKalb County in the 2010s when a lot of county leaders faced criminal charges.
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She could have gotten up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Prosecutors pushed for prison time.
But instead, the judge gave her three years probation with the first nine months in home confinement.
People who live in DeKalb County said they believe Barnes Sutton got off easy.
“I think because she held a higher position, she should get a higher charge and a more weightier sentence,” said Safiatou Jawara Redwood.
“I know if I did something like that, I wouldn’t get just probation,” Barrington Levy said.
Barnes Sutton also has to pay a $3,200 fine.
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