ATLANTA – A federal jury has convicted a former DeKalb County commissioner of extortion.
The U.S. Department of Justice said Sharon Barnes Sutton was found guilty of extorting a DeKalb County subcontractor in connection with a $1.8 million contract.
Court documents alleged Sutton demanded monthly payments ranging from $500 to $1,000 in 2014. She accepted a $5,000 cash bribe, prosecutors say.
She was found guilty of two counts of extortion.
A federal judge will sentence the 63-year-old Stone Mountain woman in January. She faces up to 20 years in prison.
A federal grand jury in the Northern District of Georgia indicted her in 2019.
The indictment alleged that in May 2014, Barnes Sutton accepted money from a contractor in exchange for the awarding of a contract for the Snapfinger Creek Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility.
The indictment cited Barnes Sutton’s work as chair of the DeKalb County Commission’s Finance, Audit and Budget Committee, which recommended the contract.
The indictment alleged Barnes Sutton approached an individual whose company had received a sizable procurement award from the DeKalb County Commission in connection with the construction of a wastewater treatment plant. Barnes Sutton allegedly demanded monthly payments of $500 from this individual and later increased her demand to $1,000.
According to a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) news release, the individual made the first $500 payment in June 2014 at a restaurant in Decatur. The indictment further alleged that Barnes Sutton asked the individual to meet her at the restaurant and brought her son along so that her son would receive the cash payment on her behalf. The individual reportedly made the second $500 cash payment at Barnes Sutton’s residence in July 2014.
According to the news release, the FBI disrupted Barnes Sutton’s continued demands in August 2014.
The indictment spelled out recorded conversations between Barnes Sutton and the contractor for $500 cash payments, and outlined the contractor’s refusal to pay her a higher amount of $1,000.
According to the indictment, the committee chaired by Barnes Sutton voted to approve a four-year contract for more than $10 million for the Snapfinger Creek Project.
Source: Fox 5 Atlanta