Burrell Ellis sentenced to serve 18 months in prison - CBS46 News

Burrell Ellis sentenced to serve 18 months in prison

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  • Verdict reached in Burrell Ellis trial

    Verdict reached in Burrell Ellis trial

    Thursday, December 1 2016 1:58 PM EST2016-12-01 18:58:23 GMT
    Guilty on four counts.  That’s the verdict today from a DeKalb County jury who found suspended CEO Burrell Ellis guilty of criminal attempted theft by extortion and three counts of perjury.More >
    Guilty on four counts.  That’s the verdict today from a DeKalb County jury who found suspended CEO Burrell Ellis guilty of criminal attempted theft by extortion and three counts of perjury.More >
DECATUR, GA (CBS46) -

Suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis has been sentenced to five years in prison, to serve 18 months.  

This comes one week after a jury found him guilty on charges related to strong-arming a county contractor for a campaign contribution.

Ellis has been in jail since last Wednesday after a jury found him guilty of four of the nine charges against him. The guilty charges include one count of theft by extortion, relating to shaking down a county contractor for a campaign contribution, and three counts of perjury related to Ellis's statements to a grand jury that he does not get involved in county contracts. 

Ellis was tried twice. In both trials, the case centered on secret recordings by Kelvin Walton, the former head of purchasing and contracts for DeKalb County. Walton agreed to work with prosecutors in exchange for not being charged with lying to a grand jury about whether he received gifts for county vendors.

During both trials, Ellis took the stand in his own defense, denying he had done anything illegal. The first trial ended in mistrial after jurors told the judge they could not reach an agreement on any of the charges. In the second trial, jurors deliberated for 27 hours before reaching verdicts.

Ellis will also be required to do 300 hours of community service. 

Ellis is fighting to secure a bond that would keep him out of prison as he appeals the sentence. The big question is, who will run DeKalb County? CBS46 asked to speak with Interim CO Lee May about taking over for Ellis. He refused to speak with us.

Instead, he issued this statement:

"Mr. Ellis remains under suspension during any appeal until the final disposition of his case or the expiration of his first term of office, whichever comes first. While the suspension is in effect, I remain as Interim Chief Executive Officer. As Interim CEO, I will continue to stay focused on moving the county forward."

It is interesting to note that Ellis is suspended without pay. There will not be any special election for his seat and the Governor's Office says the Governor has no authority to step in and replace Ellis.

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