A federal judge threw out criminal charges Friday against two businessmen whom prosecutors had accused of attempting to bribe DeKalb County Commissioner Stan Watson.
U.S. District Judge David Norton said in court there was no evidence that an illegal deal was struck or that any public official in DeKalb had received anything improperly, according to The State newspaper.
Watson said the judge’s decision clears his name.
“This has vindicated me,” Watson said. “Now it’s proven that I’m not guilty, and I’m going to continue to do what the people elected me to do.”
Watson received a subpoena earlier this week, but defense attorneys decided not to call him to testify, he said.
The former head of a construction company, Richard Zahn, had testified Wednesday that the defendants asked him to pay Watson $50,000 or $60,000 so that Zahn could get work on the county’s $1.7 billion water and sewer upgrade project. Zahn, who has pleaded guilty in the case, also said the defendants wanted him to buy Atlanta Falcons box seats for suspended DeKalb County Purchasing Director Kelvin Walton.
No evidence was presented during the trial that a bribe was ever paid or that Watson was involved in the discussions between Zahn and the defendants, Jonathan Pinson and Eric Robinson.
A jury will begin deliberating dozens of remaining charges Monday, including allegations that the defendants attempted to enrich themselves through their involvement with a public housing project in Columbia, S.C.