Last March, a report indicated that Georgia ranked last among states defending against public corruption. Now, there's even more statistical evidence supporting that trend.
The AJC, who has analyzed federal crime statistics from over the past decade, recently confirmed the city's longstanding penchant for public corruption.
According to their findings, convictions have increased so much in the metro area's federal judicial district that it currently ranks among the nation's most dishonest. In looking at these convictions compared to the country's 93 federal districts, they found that:
- The number of convictions in the Northern District of Georgia, which includes metro Atlanta, rose sharply from just 6 in 2006 to 32 in both 2010 and 2011.
- The district ranked 51st in the country in corruption convictions in 2006. But in 2010 and 2011 it ranked 6th out of 93 districts.
- For the 10-year period from 2002 to 2011, the Northern District of Georgia saw 181 public corruption convictions, 22nd among the 93 districts. It trailed such famed corruption capitals as New Jersey (429 convictions), Chicago (370) and South Florida (284).
Law enforcement officials told the AJC that this doesn't necessarily mean that corruption has increased, but rather it may possibly shed light on their improved abilities to catch offending public officials. That's certainly a nice way of spinning the story.
That being said, here are some of the officials that they've prosecuted in recent years:
- Ex-Gwinnett County Commissioner Shirley Lasseter was sentenced on Sept. 5, 2012, to serve 33 months in prison for her role in a bribery scheme after attempting to sell her vote on a proposed real estate development project. Her son, John Fanning, and Hall County businessman Carl “Skip” Cain also were sentenced to four years and nine months in prison for public corruption and drug offenses. Developer Mark Gary has pleaded guilty to corruption charges and is awaiting sentencing.
- Two former Transportation Security Administration officers, Richard Cook and Timothy Gregory, have pleaded guilty to conspiring and attempting to smuggle what they believed to be drugs through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
- Former DeKalb County Deputy Chief of Police Donald Frank and former DeKalb Police Lt. Willie Daren Durrett were both convicted of accepting bribes from a local businessman. They will be sentenced this month.
- Marvie Trevino Dingle, a former Fulton County Deputy Sheriff, was convicted of accepting more than $2,000 in bribes to distribute cocaine inside and outside the Fulton County Jail. In June, Dingle was sentenced to serve 41 months in prison.
- Fidelis Ogbu, a DeKalb County Department of Public Works engineering supervisor, was sentenced in June to three years in prison for extorting money from a private construction contractor. In addition, former DeKalb construction inspector Neacacha Joyner also pleaded guilty to extorting money from a private construction contractor.
- Jasen Minter and Louis Nock were indicted on federal charges of conspiracy and theft of more than $2.7 million from the U.S. government while Minter was serving as an Army captain and Nock as a senior noncommissioned officer in Saudi Arabia. They are awaiting trial.
- Former Fulton County Jail Detention Officer Brian Anthony was sentenced in March to serve 10 years in federal prison on drug charges and accepting bribes of more than $26,000 to further the distribution of drugs inside the county jail and elsewhere.
- Desi Wade, a U.S. Department of Defense employee assigned to Afghanistan as the chief of Fire and Emergency Services, pleaded guilty to influencing an Afghan-based contractor to give bribes to him in return for guarantees of future contracts. In March, Wade was sentenced to 20 months in prison.
While it's a good thing that law enforcement has reportedly been cracking down on unethical public officials, ultimately Georgia residents are still paying double for these crimes. A Lawrenceville resident, who was quoted in the story, summed it up nicely: “We’re the ones that pay too much for various properties, we get to pay your legal defense. Then we get to pay to incarcerate you.”
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