At least two new companies have hired attorneys or contacted the DeKalb County District Attorney’s office with complaints that mirror the criminal charges against CEO Burrell Ellis.
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In recent years, local and state governments have relied more on private companies to provide services that used to be done in-house, in the hopes of lowering costs through bidding. Among contracts DeKalb has:
* $120,000 annual contract for an Austell company to provide toilet paper, seat covers and facial tissue in bathrooms in county buildings ranging from the courthouse to medical examiner’s office.
* $1.125 million, split between companies in Doraville and Norcross, for about 18 months of new tires and tubes on county vehicles such as police cars and public works trucks.
* $7.7 million contract with a Tucker company that is grading and preparing the land around the Snapfinger Wastewater Treatment Facility as part of a $250 million upgrade and expansion of the center. Most of the work will be done by private firms.
A DeKalb County grand jury indicted CEO Burrell Ellis on 15 criminal counts, 14 of them felonies.
The charges include theft, conspiracy and extortion:
Prosecutors allege in two counts that Ellis threatened to withhold county business from the IT vendor CIBER Inc. after an employee said she and the firm would not contribute to Ellis’ election campaign. One charge claims Ellis told the worker he would report that she provided poor customer service if she did not give.
Five counts accuse Ellis of making sure Power and Energy Services, an Austell equipment sales and service company, did not receive work with DeKalb after the owners and an employee either did not respond to campaign solicitations or declined to give. Two charges claim Ellis instructed the county’s purchasing director to write a false note in the company’s file, describing them as non-responsive, to explain why they no longer received contracts.
Five counts allege that Ellis ordered the purchasing director and department staffers to compile a list of county vendors for his use in campaign calls. Theft and fraud charges refer to stealing the workers’ time - on taxpayers’ dime - to do the work, as well as deliver the list to an off-site office. Two coercion charges claim Ellis forced those who worked for him to help with his political efforts.
Three counts accuse Ellis of directing the the purchasing director to stop honoring a contract with real estate firm National Property Institute of Ellenwood after the company did not give to his campaign. The counts also allege that Ellis ordered the county’s community development director to arrange a meeting with the firm over the lack of donations.