Former DeKalb official sentenced for taking bribes

Jerry Clark, right, former DeKalb Zoning Board of Appeals member, and his attorney Gary Spencer walked to federal court on Feb. 19, 2015 before Clark pleaded guilty. BEN GRAY / BGRAY@AJC.COM
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Jerry Clark, right, former DeKalb Zoning Board of Appeals member, and his attorney Gary Spencer walked to federal court on Feb. 19, 2015 before Clark pleaded guilty. BEN GRAY / BGRAY@AJC.COM

A former DeKalb zoning board member and the pool hall owner who paid him $3,500 in bribes were sentenced to prison Wednesday.

Ex-DeKalb Zoning Board of Appeals member Jerry Clark will serve a nine-month sentence, and club owner Ismail Sirdah received a six-months sentence. Both pleaded guilty last year.

“This is another unfortunate incident of corruption in DeKalb County,” said U.S Attorney John Horn in a statement. “The citizens of DeKalb County expect public officials to act with honestly and integrity. Public officials who may be tempted by money and graft remember: We remain committed to investigating and prosecuting acts of corruption regardless of who commits them or where they are.”

Clark accepted the money from Sirdah, who was seeking permission to operate Lulu Billiards in Tucker as a nightclub as a dance floor. The zoning board voted 4-2 in November 2012 to approve the permit for Lulu Billiards, and Sirdah then paid the bribes.

Clark’s attorney, Gary Spencer, wrote in a sentencing memo that Clark shouldn’t be punished as severely as former DeKalb Commissioner Elaine Boyer, who is serving a 14-month sentence for taking kickbacks and using her government charge card for personal purposes.

“Corruption must and should be rooted out; however, there is a difference between a $3,500 bribe and conspiracy to commit wire fraud of more than $80,000,” Spencer wrote.

Sirdah apologized to U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May for his actions.

“I know I've made a mistake,” Sirdah said in court. “It’s an embarrassment to me and my family. … I really apologize.”

Besides their prison sentences, Clark was ordered to pay a $3,500 fine, and Sirdah must pay a $10,000 fine.

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