Evangelist from Elaine Boyer’s kickback scheme dies of heart failure

Dec 31, 2017
Rooks Boynton, seen here at a National Day of Prayer event in Brunswick in 2010, died of congestive heart failure the day after Christmas, according to his obituary. In 2015, federal prosecutors accused him of helping former DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer fleece taxpayers out of about $85,000. Charges against him were dismissed in August 2017. BOBBY HAVEN / THE BRUNSWICK NEWS

Rooks Boynton, the evangelist accused of helping former DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer funnel tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars into her own pockets, has died of congestive heart failure, according to his obituary.

Boynton, 75, died the day after Christmas and four months after federal prosecutors agreed to dismiss charges against him of federal program theft and federal program theft conspiracy.

“He devoted much of his time to caring for those in his life,” his obituary, published Sunday in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, said, “and helping to further the business interests of those that called him friend. He was a people person and loved sharing his faith with others.”

Boynton’s role in the kickback scheme came to light in a 2014 investigation by the AJC into questionable spending by DeKalb County elected officials. Boyer resigned in disgrace and pleaded guilty to defrauding taxpayers out of more than $100,000, both through kickbacks and by using a county-issued charge card for such personal expenses as airline tickets, a ski resort booking, rental cars and cell phone bills. She spent a year in federal prison, after representing north DeKalb for 22 years.

The AJC first raised questions about Boyer’s spending on the county Visa card in March 2014. The newspaper continued investigating and discovered the scheme involving Boynton, as did the FBI.

Despite Boynton’s lacking qualifications or doing any work, Boyer billed the county for his services as a consultant and a lobbyist. Records she filed with the county said he researched issues such as transportation, Grady hospital and MARTA’S legislative oversight committee, MARTOC.

Boynton was not a registered lobbyist, but a family friend and religious activist who lived on Saint Simons Island, the AJC found. He also ran a nonprofit, Rooks Boynton Ministries, which performed “ministerial services both locally and on foreign mission trips,” according to tax documents. Earlier in his life, he played football for the University of Georgia, and in the 1980s he ran unsuccessfully for DeKalb CEO.

Only one record turned up of Boynton’s involving himself in government affairs during the time Boyer paid him — when he took part in a National Day of Prayer demonstration in 2010 at Brunswick City Hall, 300 miles from Decatur.

Boynton’s indictment accused him of accepting more than 35 checks from Boyer, totaling about $85,000, for services he never performed, kicking most of the money back to Boyer and her husband.

“Boynton kept and spent the rest of the approximately $25,000 that he received from DeKalb County,” his indictment said.

He never went to trial, though. An order dismissing his charges, signed in August by U.S. District Judge Orinda Evans, said prosecutors agreed to the deal because Boynton “successfully completed the terms of the Pre-Trial Diversion program.”

Two other people connected to Boyer also faced criminal charges.

Her husband, John, pleaded guilty to participating in the fraud and served about 10 months in prison. Boyer’s former chief of staff, Bob Lundsten, was sentenced to a year on probation for misspending $310 with his county charge card.