Two DeKalb County public works officials were charged Tuesday with extortion and bribery stemming from an FBI sting involving a construction company owner who worked undercover to build the cases against the employees.
Fidelis Ogbu and Neacacha Joyner were accused of exploiting their positions at the DeKalb Department of Public Works to extort money from a private contractor hired to work on a sidewalk construction project, U.S. Attorney Sally Yates said.
Ogbu, 59, an engineering supervisor, declined to comment Tuesday. Joyner, 40, a construction inspector, could not be reached.
Both employees have been placed on leave pending an administrative investigation, county spokesman Burke Brennan said. DeKalb is cooperating fully with federal authorities, he said.
The alleged misconduct involved a $1.4 million contract awarded a company hired to build sidewalks near S. Hairston and Wesley Chapel roads, according to an affidavit filed by an FBI special agent.
In September 2010, the affidavit said, Joyner contacted the company's owner, identified in court papers only as a "confidential human source," and asked to borrow $500 to help pay her mortgage. The owner loaned her the money, the agent said.
The following April, the affidavit said, Joyner told the owner, "Let me think like a crook. I think you're a crook, too. I need $18,000."
The owner said that he didn't have that much money, but told Joyner she could take scrap metal from the project, recycle it for about $5,000 and they could split it, the affidavit said. Joyner agreed, but the next day the owner reported what happened to law enforcement.
At the FBI's direction, the owner soon met with Joyner, who asked for $2,500 in exchange for her allowing the sidewalk project to continue. Three days later, the owner met with Joyner and gave her the money, the agent said.
In May 2011, Joyner asked for an additional $4,000, saying she had student loans to pay, the affidavit said. The owner soon made two $2,000 cash payments to Joyner in a Kroger parking lot, the affidavit said.
The next month, Joyner asked for $3,000 more and told the owner to fraudulently bill the county for the removal of four fire hydrants that would not be removed, the affidavit said. The owner did as instructed and later paid Joyner the money, the agent said.
Ogbu got involved in July 2011 when he told the construction company owner to over-bill the county for a driveway project and demanded he get $30,000, the affidavit said. The owner met with Ogbu on three occasions over the next few months, giving him $9,800 in cash on the first occasion and $8,500 on the second, the affidavit said.
On Nov. 4, 2011, the owner met with Ogbu again and was about to give him another $9,800, but Ogbu got out of the car, the affidavit said. When he did, FBI agents approached Ogbu and took him to the FBI field office where Ogbu admitted to accepting the bribes, the affidavit said.
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