DeKalb official resigns after federal investigation

Jerry Clark and Darryl Jennings Sr., members of the DeKalb Zoning Board of Appeals, voted in November 2012 to approve a permit for a Lulu Billiards to operate as a nightclub. Clark pleaded guilty to taking bribes. Jennings wasn’t charged, and he resigned last month. CREDIT: WSB-TV

caption arrowCaption
Jerry Clark and Darryl Jennings Sr., members of the DeKalb Zoning Board of Appeals, voted in November 2012 to approve a permit for a Lulu Billiards to operate as a nightclub. Clark pleaded guilty to taking bribes. Jennings wasn’t charged, and he resigned last month. CREDIT: WSB-TV

Though no charges were ever brought against him, the former chairman of DeKalb County’s zoning board has resigned from his seat on the panel almost two years after coming under investigation by federal prosecutors in connection with a bribery scandal.

Darryl Jennings Sr., a member of the DeKalb Zoning Board of Appeals for about a decade, stepped down last month. He didn’t provide an explanation in a resignation letter obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution under Georgia’s Open Records Act.

Jennings didn’t return phone calls and an email seeking comment.

It’s unclear whether his resignation will be the end of the case. Federal prosecutors subpoenaed government records related to Jennings in April 2015. No further information is available, said U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Bob Page this week.

Another member of the board, Jerry Clark, pleaded guilty to taking $3,500 in bribes after voting to allow a pool hall to operate as a night club with a dance floor. Jennings joined Clark and two other board members in the 4-2 vote in November 2012, which overturned a DeKalb Planning Department decision. Clark received a nine-month sentence.

The pool hall owner, Ismail Sirdah, also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six months in prison. Prosecutors have said Sirdah paid a total of $5,500 in bribes, but they never revealed who else was paid besides Clark.

Jennings took a leave of absence from the board in May 2015 and wrote at the time he planned to return after prosecutors completed their investigation, according to a letter sent to Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May.

“Considering that my name has been placed in the public domain, I do not intend to allow my family to be subjected to public scrutiny or to become a public spectacle,” Jennings wrote. “… I am confident that my reputation will continue to be positive and I will return to continue my fiduciary responsibility to DeKalb County.”

His three-sentence resignation letter, dated Oct. 17, thanked DeKalb Commissioner Larry Johnson for giving him the opportunity to serve on the board.

“He just wanted to move on,” said Johnson, who originally appointed Jennings to the board in 2006. “He wanted to get on with his life.”

The DeKalb Commission voted Nov. 7 to replace Jennings with Alice Bussey, a businesswoman and former member of the county’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax Citizen Review Committee.

Members of the DeKalb Zoning Board of Appeals knew Jennings was under investigation, but they weren’t given any information about what prosecutors found, said Nadine Rivers-Johnson, the chairwoman of the board.

She said Jennings showed integrity during his time on the board, and she thought his name would be cleared.

“Either the investigation is continuing to go on, or it has been quietly resolved,” she said. “If anything is found as a result of those allegations, this will not be the last we hear of it. Let’s hope for the best.”

About the Author

Editors' Picks