DeKalb grand jurors want to open its probe

A special grand jury investigating DeKalb County contracting is demanding that its findings, which have been sealed by a judge, be made public.

Attorneys for DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis and Kevin Ross, his former campaign manager, last week convinced the judge overseeing the grand jury to keep the report secret for now.

The grand jury has conducted a year-long investigation initially focused on contracting in the county’s Watershed Department. But last month the investigation appeared to expand when search warrants were executed on the homes and offices of Ellis and Ross. By law, grand jury investigations are secret. But the search warrants indicate Ellis and Ross had become subject to scrutiny, as investigators took personal financial information for both men along with campaign records seeking evidence of bid-rigging, bribery and other corruption charges.

The grand jury finished its business on Jan. 18, according to the letter signed by grand jury foreman Albert Trujillo that was obtained by Channel 2 Action News. Last week, DeKalb Superior Court Judge Mark Anthony Scott agreed to give Ross’ and Ellis’ the lawyers 10 days to review the grand jury report while keeping it from public view.

That decision did not sit well with the men and women who have been hearing testimony and reviewing evidence over the past 12 months.

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“We are all voting, taxpaying citizens who gave up a year of our time to serve on this Special Purpose Grand Jury,” the letter said. “We made recommendations for the betterment of DeKalb County and believe that this information needs to be made public without delay.”

Judge Scott could not be reached for comment and it is unclear whether the report will be unsealed next week once the 10 days granted to Ellis and Ross expires.

Lawyers for Ellis and attorney Kevin Ross sought to keep the report out of public view because they contend they should be able to read the report to determine if the special grand jury exceeded its authority, according to court filings.

The special purpose grand jury cannot recommend criminal charges. But its findings can be presented to a sitting grand jury, which has the authority to issue criminal indictments.

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