Boyer sentenced to federal prison for defrauding DeKalb taxpayers

Elaine Boyer said she wasn’t going to be the poster child for bad accounting when she was first confronted about spending taxpayer dollars on herself and her family. Instead, the former DeKalb County commissioner became one of the faces of DeKalb County corruption.

Friday afternoon, Boyer was sentenced to 14 months in federal prison for defrauding DeKalb taxpayers. She also was ordered to pay $87,350 in restitution to the county.

She will report to prison at a later date.

Boyer, who was the commission’s only Republican and its longest-serving member, postured herself for decades as its watchdog over public spending.

Yet, secretly, she pilfered public funds, masking the financial shambles Boyer and her husband, John, were drowning in. They had lost their Stone Mountain strip mall to foreclosure and were struggling to hold on to their Smoke Rise home, which they would eventually lose, too.

From 2009 to 2011, they extracted tens of thousands of dollars from the county through a fake consultant, phony invoices and real DeKalb County checks.

Boyer spent the money on herself and her family, including purchases at hotels and high-end department stores, prosecutors charged.

Federal investigators launched a probe of Boyer after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last year that she had run up thousands of dollars in personal expenses on her county Visa card, drawing down taxpayer funds. She paid for family airline tickets, rental cars, personal cell phone expenses and a ski resort booking, the AJC investigation found.

While Boyer repaid the county for some of her purchases within days, weeks or months — essentially treating the money as bridge loans — she failed to repay about $8,000 until after the AJC sought receipts documenting her spending.

Later stories by the AJC, working with Channel 2 Action News, identified other Boyer ruse: a kickback scheme involving payments to a phony consultant.

The man, an evangelist who was a Boyer family friend, submitted phony invoices which Boyer approved. Then the “adviser” kicked about $60,000 to Boyer and her husband, John, and kept about $20,000 for himself.

John Boyer also has pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme. He is scheduled to be sentenced in May. No charges have been filed against the evangelist who took part.

The revelations about Elaine Boyer helped spur ongoing efforts to reform a county rife with corruption scandals, including a suspended CEO indicted for allegedly shaking down county contractors. The county’s Purchasing Department has been overhauled, the P-card policy has been changed, funding for the Ethics Board has been increased, and pending state legislation would beef up the county’s ability to police itself and root out corruption.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.