Another guilty plea in DeKalb corruption probe

A former janitorial company executive is facing federal prison time for setting up a DeKalb County official with luxury living in exchange for government work.

On Tuesday Cecil K. Clark, a former division manager for Alabama-based Rite Way Service, pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe Patrick Jackson, who simultaneously worked in janitorial services for both the DeKalb County government and the Georgia World Congress Center.

Jackson, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit honest services fraud in April, used the two positions to help steer millions of dollars in contracts and jobs to Rite Way at the public’s expense, court documents say.

Clark set up Jackson in two Midtown luxury apartments from 2006 to 2010, with Rite Way paying for utilities, furniture and garage space. One apartment was at 1280 West, the other at the W, Clark’s defense attorney told Channel 2 Action News.

Clark, 55, agreed to continue cooperating with federal investigators as part of a plea deal. His attorney, Page Pate, described him as a Marine Corps veteran who did only what his employer wanted.

“He turned away Mr. Jackson’s advances,” Pate told Channel 2, “but then he took it to his company and his company said go for it. His company wanted to do business with DeKalb County, so they put Cecil in the position of signing the documents. But it was all done at the company’s behest.”

Rite Way’s assets have since been bought by another company, Diversified Maintenance. Former Rite Way owner Anthony Lepore has not returned messages from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution since September.

Clark’s guilty plea is the latest in an ongoing federal probe into DeKalb corruption.

“This plea,” the FBI’s Atlanta office special agent in charge, J. Britt Johnson, said in a news release, “clearly illustrates that the FBI will pursue not only those public officials engaged in corrupt activities but also those individuals who entice or otherwise conspire with those officials in their corrupt and criminal activities.”

In March, a federal judge sentenced ex-Commissioner Elaine Boyer to 14 months in prison for bilking the county out of more than $100,000 through a kickback scheme and abusing her government Visa card. Jerry Clark, a former member of DeKalb’s zoning appeals board, pleaded guilty in February to taking $3,500 in bribes for voting to approve a nightclub.

Clark is scheduled for sentencing on July 31.