A DeKalb County public works employee who pleaded guilty to “shaking down” a local construction contractor, was sentenced to two years and three months in prison Wednesday.
Neacacha Joyner, 40, a Department of Public Works Engineering Supervisor with DeKalb County, pleaded guilty in May to collecting $9,500 in bribes from the contractor, authorities said.
“Ms. Joyner abused her position as a DeKalb County Public Works employee by shaking down a local contractor for payoffs,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in a news release.
Joyner was indicted by a federal grand jury on March 6, 2012 on charges of extortion and bribery.
Joyner had been assigned to inspect a $1.4 million federally funded DeKalb project to build sidewalks near the intersection of South Hairston and Wesley Chapel roads. Beginning in April 2011, Joyner began demanding payments from a private contractor in a “pay-to-play scheme,” Yates said.
The contractor, whose name has not been disclosed, almost immediately turned to federal authorities about the shakedown and began cooperating with the investigation, authorities said.
An affidavit previously filed by an FBI agent said Joyner had contacted the contractor in September 2010 and asked to borrow $500 to help pay her mortgage. The contractor gave her the loan, the agent said.
In early April 2011, the affidavit said, Joyner told the contractor, “Let me think like a crook. I think you’re a crook, too. I need $18,000.”
By the end of that month, the contractor gave Joyner a $2,500 bribe and the following month gave her two separate $2,000 payoffs, authorities said.
In June 2011, Joyner asked for another $3,000 and instructed the contractor to bill the county for that amount to remove and relocate four fire hydrants — even though the work was not going to be done, authorities said. The contractor, working with the FBI, submitted the fraudulent bills and soon met with Joyner and gave her $3,000.
Fidelis Ogbu, a former engineering supervisor for the DeKalb County Department of Public Works, was named in the same indictment. He was sentenced in June to three years in federal prison for extortion and bribery. Ogbu, 60, pleaded guilty in April to exploiting his position to extort payoffs in the scheme.
—Staff writer Bill Rankin contributed to this article.
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