Indicted DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis proclaims innocence - CBS46 News

Indicted DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis proclaims innocence

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Burrell Ellis: "I've done nothing wrong." Burrell Ellis: "I've done nothing wrong."
STONE MOUNTAIN, GA (CBS46) -

A grand jury indicted DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis Tuesday, accusing him of attempting to extort campaign contributions from companies that do business with the county.

The grand jury returned a 15-count indictment that included charges of extortion, theft and fraud.

"The said accused did as a public official, to wit CEO of DeKalb County, attempt to unlawfully obtain us currency in the form of a campaign contribution," said District Attorney Robert James.

According to the indictment, Ellis tried to force Joanne Wise, an employee of Ciber Inc., to get her company to contribute Ellis's campaign.

When Wise refused, Ellis threatened to retaliate, James said.

"The said accused did threaten to end Ciber Inc.'s business with DeKalb County after Joanne Wise did not respond to said campaign contribution solicitations," James said.

The indictment also accuses Ellis of trying to extort another company.

"He did attempt to unlawfully obtain U.S. currency, campaign contribution, the property of Power and Energy Services," James said.

According to the indictment, Ellis even drafted county employees into the scheme.

"The said accused instructed [County Director of Purchasing Contracting] Kelvin Walton to prevent Power and Energy from receiving additional work from DeKalb County because Power and Energy did not respond to campaign solicitations," James said.

After Ellis was booked into the DeKalb County Jail and released, he proclaimed his innocence.

"I have done nothing wrong, as I've said from the very beginning," Ellis said. "I would never, ever, ever do anything to violate the public trust."

Ellis was released on $25,000 bond.

The indictment puts Ellis's job in jeopardy. According to Brian Robinson, a spokesman for Gov. Nathan Deal, the governor, by law, must appoint a panel once he gets a copy of the indictment. The panel will be made up of Georgia's attorney general and two "peer officials" of Ellis. Panel members will decide whether to recommend whether Ellis should be suspended from office. 

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