Former Stonecrest mayor’s accomplice pleads guilty to felony

Lania Boone (left), Jason Lary

Credit: LinkedIn / Jason Lary

Credit: LinkedIn / Jason Lary

Lania Boone (left), Jason Lary

A bookkeeper and spouse of a former Stonecrest official accepted a plea deal in federal court Friday afternoon for participating in the same fraud scheme that brought down the city’s founding mayor.

Lania Boone, 60, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge for her role in a scheme to steal federal pandemic relief funds. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was the only news outlet at the hearing. Deana Timberlake-Wiley, Boone’s attorney, and federal prosecutors declined to comment.

Boone’s case matches the legal process used by Jason Lary, the founding mayor of Stonecrest. He resigned his post on Jan. 4 and accepted a plea deal the next day for concocting the scheme.

The details of Boone’s plea deal are similar to the one Lary accepted. Boone agreed to cooperate with government agents, provide records and testify at future trials. In return, prosecutors recommended a lighter sentence of 366 days in confinement — half in prison and half as home arrest. She also agreed to pay restitution.

A judge will have the final say on her sentencing; her conspiracy charge carries a maximum of five years behind bars. Sentencing is scheduled for May 12. Lary, who faces up to 35 years in prison, will be sentenced on May 2.

Stonecrest received $6.2 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds, and the two are accused of taking some of the funds for themselves. Lary allegedly had the city improperly enter into a contract with a recently founded nonprofit, Municipal Resource Partners Corporation, to distribute the city’s funds as a way to siphon money toward himself and cohorts.

Boone was the company’s bookkeeper and wrote multiple checks to disburse the funds, records show. She’s the wife of Clarence Boone, the city’s former economic development director who was fired as a result of investigations in the city’s relief program. He has not been charged with a crime.

In Lary’s guilty plea, he admitted to making sure that Boone was hired as Municipal Resource Partner’s bookkeeper. Boone, who wrote the bulk of the checks using the stolen funds, agreed with that Friday in court.

Small businesses that applied for financial relief were asked on an application form if they’d be willing to give 25% of the grant to one of three companies to market their business. Those companies were all connected to Lary.

The FBI and prosecutors found that $108,000 of relief funds were used to pay off the mortgage on a lakefront home owned by Lary, while another $7,600 was used to pay college tuition and rent for Boone’s son.

Both Boone and Lary remain out of jail on bond until their sentencing hearings.

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