DeKalb County missed signs of Boyer’s kickback scheme

For years, DeKalb County elected officials have been free to run up expenses, with no one inside the government bothering to ask if it was all legitimate.

But The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, then the FBI, dug into the records. Now ex-commissioner Elaine Boyer, the county’s longtime voice of fiscal conservatism, may be heading to federal prison for a $78,000 kickback scheme and taking thousands of dollars more with a county Visa card.

Some simple accounting controls by DeKalb’s money managers could have exposed Boyer’s ruse almost four years ago, the AJC’s continuing investigation has found. Plenty of red flags were flapping.

Had the county hired an internal watchdog, as it has discussed but never done, that person might have uncovered questionable spending by other commissioners, such as Stan Watson. Earlier this year, while he was running for reelection, Watson cut two checks that violated Georgia’s ethics law.

“I’m just frustrated right now,” Interim CEO Lee May said. “The headlines, the accusations, the ethics claims and the criminal charges, as well, (are) more of an obstacle for us here, and we have to get beyond it.”

There’s a reason so many headlines involve DeKalb: It has completely failed at self-policing, the AJC found. That created a free-for-all where commissioners could spend thousands of dollars and toss out the receipts; or raid the public’s coffers for tens of thousands of dollars through a phony consultant, and get away with it for years.

For the full story, pick up a copy of Sunday’s newspaper or visit MyAJC.com.

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