Testimony begins in Burrell Ellis corruption trial - CBS46 News

Testimony begins in Burrell Ellis corruption trial

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DEKALB COUNTY, GA (CBS46) -

The prosecution began calling witnesses Tuesday afternoon in the corruption trial of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis.

Ellis is facing 13 charges, including bribery, extortion and perjury.

Prosecutors accuse Ellis of strong-arming contractors to donate to his political campaign, in exchange for work with the county.

In opening statements, prosecutors recounted conversations several contractors said they had with Ellis and how he became aggressive when they refused to make contributions.

"She (the contractor) will tell you that she was apologetic and he was yelling," Assistant District Attorney LaWanda Hodges told jurors. "In all her years, she has never had a client, a politician talk to her the way he talked to her."

Defense attorneys denied Ellis ever used his power to influence anyone to make campaign donations.

"There is no evidence in this case of any Mafia shakedown, anything of that sort," said attorney Dwight Thomas. "This case isn't going to be that sexy."

Ellis has maintained his innocence.

Numerous conversations secretly recorded in Ellis' office are expected to be played during the trial which could last several weeks.

Testimony resumes Wednesday morning at the DeKalb County Courthouse.

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