Kenerly bankruptcy ends, but bribery charge looms

Kenerly attended a court hearing in Atlanta Wednesday, at which a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge dismissed his bankruptcy case after his attorney said Kenerly had resolved issues with a host of creditors. The former commissioner faces another court hearing Sept. 14 as a long-delayed felony bribery case against him begins to move forward.

Kenerly declined to comment on the criminal charges or his finances and hasn't discussed his case publicly since he resigned his commission seat in November 2010. He stepped down after a special grand jury charged him with accepting or agreeing to accept $1 million to arrange for the county to buy land in a deal that benefited developer David Jenkins.

The grand jury did not divulge details of the allegation. It also charged him with two misdemeanor counts of failing to disclose a financial interest in properties the county rezoned.

Kenerly has denied all of the charges, which have been on hold while a series of legal maneuvers played out in court.

He successfully appealed the initial indictment, convincing the Court of Appeals of Georgia that a special grand jury did not have the authority to indict him.

While the appeal was pending, a second grand jury indicted Kenerly on identical charges. Kenerly also has challenged that indictment, claiming, among other things, that it is invalid because it came while the original indictment was under appeal.

Judge Karen Beyers will take up Kenerly's latest challenges in the Sept. 14 hearing.

In the meantime, the former commissioner has struggled financially. Last December he filed for bankruptcy, claiming debts of about $3.5 million.

Although Kenerly since has resolved problems with his creditors, his financial status remains tenuous. His attorney, George Geeslin, told the bankruptcy judge Kenerly is negotiating a loan modification on his Braselton home.

"If the loan modification works, great," Geeslin said. "If it doesn't, he will lose his house."

Allegations against Kenerly and two other former commissioners have soured many Gwinnett residents on county government.

The same special grand jury that initially indicted Kenerly also considered a perjury charge against then-Chairman Charles Bannister over his testimony. Jurors decided not to indict Bannister when he offered to resign. He stepped down in October 2010.

Last May Commissioner Shirley Lasseter resigned her post and pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge. She and two other defendants are cooperating in an ongoing federal corruption investigation. She is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 5.

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