John Fanning, left, shown with his attorney Bill Thomas in May, has already been sentenced to federal prison in a bribery case. He was arrested on unrelated charges Friday morning. BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM
A former Gwinnett County zoning board member already bound for federal prison for his role in a bribery scheme appeared before a judge Saturday to answer domestic abuse charges.
The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department said John Fanning was involved in a fight Friday with his estranged wife at a home on Bold Springs Road in Dacula. He allegedly hit Lesley Fanning with a table and table leg and prevented her from calling for help and from leaving, the department said.
The alleged assault occurred in the presence of their three children, according to court records.
In court Saturday, Fanning told the judge he was broke and needed a public defender, according to Channel 2 Action News.
“I’m asking the court to appoint me counsel, unless for some miraculous reason someone in my family could round up some money, but I don’t see that happening, so I would say I will need a court-appointed attorney,” Fanning said.
Before the hearing was over, Fanning asked when federal marshals would be coming to take him to prison. “Do you know if the U.S. marshals are coming to get me soon?” he asked. “No, I don’t sir,” the judge said.
The judge did not set a bond in the domestic abuse case but scheduled another hearing for Oct. 17.
After the Friday incident, Fanning, son of former Gwinnett County Commissioner Shirley Lasseter, was seen running into a wooded area near the home. Sheriff’s SWAT team members and Gwinnett County police officers searched the area and found him hiding in the brush. Though one report indicated he may have been armed with a gun, he was taken into custody without incident and was not armed, the department said.
Fanning was booked on charges of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, cruelty to a child in the third degree and obstruction of a 911 call.
Court records show the Fannings are in the middle of a divorce.
John Fanning pleaded guilty in May to federal bribery and drug charges and was sentenced last month to 57 months in prison. He was expected to report to prison soon, but his latest arrest may mean Fanning has seen his last day of freedom for some time.
Bill Thomas, who represented Fanning in federal court, said he likely would remain in custody. Thomas said the arrest is not likely to affect his federal sentence.
Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Mike Boyd said federal authorities are aware of Fanning’s latest arrest. Typically, a federal warrant or court order would be issued requesting Fanning be turned over to federal authorities upon his release, which would be coordinated with federal officials, Boyd said.
In addition to Fanning, Lasseter and two other men also have pleaded guilty to bribery charges in an ongoing federal corruption investigation.
Last month, Lasseter received a 33-month sentence after admitting she accepted $36,500 from an undercover FBI agent last year in exchange for her vote on a Boggs Road real estate development. She also is waiting to report to prison.
Like Fanning, Hall County businessman Carl “Skip” Cain admitted to participating in the bribery scheme and to transporting what he believed to be 4 kilograms of cocaine. He, too, received a 57-month sentence.
On Monday, Gwinnett County developer Mark Gary pleaded guilty to bribery, admitting he paid Fanning and Lasseter $30,000 in casino chips in 2009 in exchange for Lasseter’s vote on a waste transfer station Gary planned to develop. He will be sentenced in January.
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