Former Stonecrest mayor, co-conspirator receive sentencing delays

210415-Stonecrest-Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary holds a press conference at city hall on Thursday, April 15, 2021. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

Combined ShapeCaption
210415-Stonecrest-Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary holds a press conference at city hall on Thursday, April 15, 2021. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

Jason Lary faces up to 35 years in prison and three years of supervised release in addition to restitution penalties

The founding mayor of Stonecrest will get a few more months to enjoy his freedom — and help out prosecutors — before he’s punished for his crimes.

Jason Lary, 60, was set to be sentenced May 2 after he pleaded guilty to concocting a scheme to steal federal pandemic relief funds. However, his attorney, Dwight Thomas, filed a motion last week to delay the sentencing until July.

In the motion, Thomas wrote he needed more time to “coordinate obtaining mitigation witnesses, documents and information on behalf of (Lary) in effort to seek a sentence below the recommended guidelines.” Prosecutors did not oppose the delayed sentencing date, and Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash approved delaying it until July 13.

As part of Lary’s guilty plea, he agreed to participate as a witness and provide testimony and documents to prosecutors, which could be used against other co-conspirators. He’s already begun playing his part, since he met with prosecutors Monday in a closed-door meeting to provide a bevy of financial documents and answer questions from prosecutors about the scheme. The oral deposition will continue day-to-day until prosecutors say they’ve had enough.

»Read the recently filed court documents at the bottom of this story.

Neither Thomas nor Bob Page, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia, would comment on Monday’s meeting or the sentencing date change.

Lary, 60, resigned as mayor of Stonecrest on January 4 — a day before he accepted his plea deal. He admitted to participating in a scam to steal more than $650,000 through the use of shell companies and personal connections. He took money using the guise of COVID-19 relief programs for small businesses and churches, and then used the funds to cover personal tax liabilities and pay off a lakehouse mortgage.

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Lary pleaded guilty to wire fraud, federal program theft and conspiracy to commit federal program theft, and he faces up to 35 years in prison and three years of supervised release in addition to potential restitution payments. His crimes carry no minimum prison time, leaving his fate in the hands of Thrash.

He’s among two people charged in the scheme. Lania Boone, a bookkeeper for the shell company used to embezzle the funds and the wife of a former city official, pleaded guilty in February to a conspiracy charge.

She was set to be sentenced 10 days after Lary, but her sentencing was pushed back to Aug. 15 due to a scheduling conflict for her attorney. Thrash is also the judge in her case.

Boone’s attorney, Deana Timberlake-Wiley, wrote in the motion requesting the delay that, “A set of documents highly relevant to the investigation was provided to the government on February 28, 2022, and additional productions from (Boone) are forthcoming.” Timberlake-Wiley told the AJC that her client “has been fully cooperative with the government’s ongoing investigation... and will continue to do so as needed.”

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In addition, Boone tried to apply for the Accountability, Treatment, and Leadership (ATL) Court program, which provides an alternative to incarceration, but the request was denied. The documents surrounding the request are sealed, but it appears her request was denied because only defendants who were charged after 2021 are eligible — Boone was arraigned in November.

It’s unclear whether the information provided by Lary or Boone will lead to more indictments in the case. Page said he had “no new information” on the case’s status when asked for updates.