State Supreme Court to hear appeal of Burrell Ellis - CBS46 News

State Supreme Court to hear appeal of Burrell Ellis

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Burrell Ellis (Source: WGCL) Burrell Ellis (Source: WGCL)

The Georgia Supreme Court will hear the appeal of DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis, who was sentenced to prison after being found guilty on charges related to strong-arming a county contractor for a campaign contribution.

Ellis is appealing his criminal convictions on one count of attempting to commit theft by extortion and three counts of perjury.

He was acquitted of five other counts on charges that included bribery.

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.

In 2012, Ellis attempted to extort a $2,500 campaign contribution from Power and Energy Services Inc. through its co-owner, Brandon Cummings. The company had a $250,000 contract to provide generator repairs for the DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management. A recorded telephone conversation revealed Ellis asked for the campaign donation on four occasions and threatened that he would cut the company's contract with the county if the donation was not made.

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 was sentenced to five years in prison, to serve 18 months. He served eight months before being released on good behavior.

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