More subpoenas in DeKalb

In today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution, I reported that subpoenas from the state ethics commission have been issued for bank records on accounts used by one current and one former county commissioner in DeKalb. Find out which ones here.

One of the strangest things about the secret bank accounts maintained for several DeKalb County politicians is where they ended up once the DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce decided to no longer manage them.

For years, the chamber held cash accounts for Commissioners Stan Watson, Elaine Boyer and Larry Johnson, as well as state Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick. According to an official statement from the chamber, the accounts were to be used to support programs and events in the county that would eventually produce some sort of benefit for the business community down the line.

(Confused? Take a minute and read today’s AJC Watchdog column to get caught up.)

In 2013, the chamber leadership decided the accounts “did not align with the organization’s mission or business objectives,” according to an official statement. The accounts for Johnson and Kendrick were closed out, chamber officials told me. The accounts for Watson and Boyer — which were much larger — were transferred to new “fiscal agents.”

Here’s where a strange tale gets stranger. Watson took $13,477 in his chamber account to the director of the South DeKalb YMCA, who agreed to act as Watson’s new banker, but failed to tell top management in the YMCA of Metro Atlanta.

June 13, 2014 Decatur - Jamia Burton (right), 5, swims as instructor Jhari Rickettes helps in the indoor swimming pool at South DeKalb Family YMCA in Decatur on Friday, June 13, 2014. Nearly $5 million in taxpayer money would be used to renovate a members-only YMCA, according to a proposal pending before the DeKalb County Commission. Residents opposed to the deal say it amounts to a handout for a private business, but supporters say it would bring more services to south DeKalb. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Swimming lessons, like this one at South DeKalb Family YMCA in Decatur, are what you expect from the YMCA. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Metro Y Chief Financial Officer Billy Holley said he was unaware the money even existed until last December, more than a year after it was deposited.

Holley said he and other YMCA leaders have been trying to untangle the mess since they first learned of it.

Meanwhile, Boyer took a similar amount of money from her chamber account to the Decide DeKalb Development Agency — an arm of the county government. The agency agreed to take the money, for some reason.

The spokeswoman for the agency said there were a series of debits and deposits and the account appeared to be used to pay vendors for an annual county employee picnic. At least it did until Boyer went to prison last year on unrelated corruption charges.

Decide DeKalb has a relatively new president and board of directors. The agency spokeswoman, who was hired last fall, said her boss is working with their accountant to nail down exactly what transpired with Boyer’s account and what to do with the more than $9,000 left in it.

There is no reason to believe that senior leaders at the YMCA or the new leaders at Decide DeKalb had anything to do with these accounts, but they are their headache now, I’m afraid.

I hope they saved their receipts because I expect the state ethics commission will come calling soon.


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