DECATUR, Ga. — Former DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis has been sentenced after being found guilty for illegally pressuring county contractors into giving him campaign contributions.
The judge in the case sentenced Ellis to five years in prison, with 18 months to serve and ordered the former county executive to pay $1,000 fine.
The jury of six men and six women deliberated for four days before coming back with the verdict that Ellis bribed a vendor working for DeKalb County. Ellis was acquitted of five other counts on charges that included bribery.
Ellis maintained his innocence, saying he made phone calls but didn’t threaten anyone or take action against vendors’ contracts.
He faced up to 15 years behind bars at before sentencing.
The attempted theft by extortion charge refers to Ellis trying to force a company called Power & Energy Services to donate to his political campaign.
The company’s owner Brandon Cummings said he felt “threatened, intimidated [and] I guess scared” by a 2012 phone conversation he had with Ellis. Cummings testified that Ellis pressured him to donate $2,500 to his political campaign.
“He said he just cut my contract, [and] that we didn’t do anything wrong,” Cummings said while testifying during the trial.
When Cummings refused to donate to the Ellis campaign, his company lost a $250,000 contract.