UPDATE: Feds charge ex-DeKalb commissioner with taking a bribe, extortion


Former DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton is in the process of being released from custody on a $25,000 unsecured bond.

Sutton plead not guilty to federal charges that she took at least one bribe from a company trying to do business with the county and two counts of extortion.

The indictment describes a company that won a contract around the same time as Tetra Tech was awarded the construction management contract at the Snapfinger Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant.


Former DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton was taken into custody this morning by the FBI, a spokesman for the FBI confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Bret Williams, Sutton’s attorney, said federal authorities arrested her at her home this morning despite previous offers from Barnes to turn herself in.

“I just think that was unnecessary because this is somebody’s aunt,” Williams said. “That’s their prerogative, but they’re just making a show out of it.”

Sutton will be arraigned in federal court at 11:30 a.m., the FBI said.

No further details on Sutton's arrest or the charges she faces are available at this time. She has been under investigation for years, and has been the subject of a series of subpoenas that both she and the county had received from the U.S. Department of Justice's Public Integrity Section.

Reached on her cell phone last week, Sutton would not say if she had spoken to federal agents and refused to discuss why she may be the target of an investigation.

Channel 2 Action News was the first to report on Sutton's arrest. Her attorney, Bret Williams, told the station that his client has done nothing wrong and "has always stood ready and willing to face any allegations against her regarding her unblemished time."

Sutton received a subpoena earlier this year that demanded campaign and banking records going back to 2012. It's unclear if today's arrest is related to that.

In 2014, an AJC investigation found that Sutton paid her then-boyfriend $34,000 in public dollars, most of it for political advice during her first two years in office.

That same year, the Ethics Board investigated complaints that Sutton had used her county purchasing card for personal expenses.

While that investigation was pending, DeKalb voters in 2015 approved changes to the Ethics Code that allowed private groups to appoint members to the Ethics Board. Sutton filed a lawsuit saying those changes were unconstitutional, and the investigation of her actions was put on hold.

Sutton left office in 2017 after losing a re-election bid.

This report will be updated.

ORIGINAL DOCUMENT: Read the indictment