DeKalb County director testifies in Burrell Ellis trial - CBS46 News

DeKalb County director testifies in Burrell Ellis trial

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The purchasing director for DeKalb County testified Tuesday that he lied under oath to a special grand jury in 2012.

Kelvin Walton took the stand in the corruption trial of suspended CEO Burrell Ellis. Ellis is accused of strong arming contractors to contribute to his campaign or risk losing county work.

"Having been under oath, why did you lie?" asked prosecutor LaWanda Hodges.

"I just was scared," replied Walton. "I thought about my career. I know what I had done and I was just scared, and I got caught up. I knew that I lied and I wanted to come clean."

Walton told the court he lied about whether he had accepted gifts from vendors. He admitted he and a friend got free work from a tree service that did work for the county.

"First of all I would like to apologize to the citizens of this county," said Walton. "I'd also like to apologize to my family and my staff. I've done a lot of things wrong."

After the district attorney confronted Walton in 2012, he decided to help the DA in the Ellis investigation and agreed to secretly record Ellis' conversations.

"If you didn't agree with him, he would bully you to death," said Walton. "Directors were afraid."

The purchasing director said Ellis ordered him to get a list of contractors that did work with the county. Walton testified the CEO told him he wanted to ask the vendors for campaign contributions.

Earlier Tuesday, the co-owner of Merrell Bros., a company that planned to do solid waste work for DeKalb County, testified. 

Terry Merrell said that Ellis asked him for a $25,000 campaign contribution and in exchange, the CEO would smooth over problems Merrell's company was having with their county contract.

"What he said next sent shivers through my spine," Merrell testified. "He said, 'Do you want me to make a phone call?' And I said, 'No I don't want you to make a phone call.' I felt like something illegal was happening."

Ellis is facing more than a dozen charges, including bribery and extortion. Testimony resumes Wednesday at 9 a.m.

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