DeKalb official charged with bribery

Prosecutors are accusing yet another former DeKalb County official of corruption — this time involving allegations of bribery.

Jerry Clark, who served on the DeKalb Zoning Board of Appeals until June 2013, allegedly obtained $3,500 in exchange for his influence, according to court documents released Friday.

Clark, 42, is expected to plead guilty in federal court Thursday. He and his attorney declined to comment.

Clark solicited and accepted a bribe involving transactions valued at more than $5,000, according to a one-count criminal information filed in the case. The filing of a criminal information is used by federal prosecutors when they have reached a deal for a guilty plea.

It’s unclear who allegedly paid off Clark and what action he took in return. More details will likely be revealed in Clark’s plea hearing.

Clark was appointed to the DeKalb Zoning Board of Appeals in 2009 by DeKalb CEO Lee May, who was a county commissioner at the time.

“I am deeply disturbed and saddened about the allegations contained in the indictment against Jerry Clark,” May said in a statement. “He no longer has any association whatsoever with DeKalb County.”

May declined further comment because the case is pending.

The county hired Clark in September as a special projects coordinator for the Department of Watershed Management, where he was responsible for outreach about water and sewer improvements, recycling and sanitation, said DeKalb spokesman Burke Brennan. The county fired Clark last month when he informed his superiors about the federal investigation.

Several current and former members of the DeKalb Zoning Board of Appeals, which considers protests of zoning decisions from businesses and residents, said they never saw signs of wrongdoing.

“I’m shocked,” said Margot Teed, the vice chairwoman of the board. “He never approached me about voting a certain way. We never had conversations like that.”

Former board member Rebecca Chase Williams said she remembered Clark handling zoning items for the southeast DeKalb district he represented and then leaving their monthly meetings.

“He was often late and left early,” said Williams, who is now a city councilwoman in Brookhaven.

Dan Wright, who briefly worked with Clark on the zoning board in 2013, said Clark was quiet and his attendance at meetings was sporadic.

“As far as any squirrely stuff you just can’t explain, I haven’t seen any of that,” Wright said. “He just wasn’t around that much.”

The federal bribery charge Clark faces comes with a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

DeKalb scandals

  • Commissioner Elaine Boyer: Pleaded guilty in September to federal fraud charges alleging she took kickbacks and bilked taxpayers out of more than $93,000. Her sentencing is scheduled for next month.
  • CEO Burrell Ellis: Accused by county prosecutors of threatening county contractors into giving him campaign contributions. Ellis has pleaded not guilty. His case ended in a mistrial because of a hung jury in October, and his retrial is scheduled for June.
  • Superintendent Crawford Lewis: Pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in a case involving allegations that school officials had manipulated construction contracts for personal gain. A jury delivered guilty verdicts against former DeKalb schools construction chief Pat Reid and her architect ex-husband, Tony Pope, but the case remains unresolved as an appeal is pending.
  • Manager of Custodial Services Patrick Jackson: Indicted in September on allegations that he steered janitorial work to a company in exchange for a luxury apartment, furniture and utilities. Jackson has pleaded not guilty.