Authorities search home, office of DeKalb Co. CEO - FOX 32 News Chicago

Authorities search home, office of DeKalb Co. CEO

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -

The DeKalb County commissioners are expected to meet on Tuesday after investigators searched DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis' home and his downtown office in Decatur on Monday.

Executing seven search warrants, authorities confiscated computers and boxes of evidence as the CEO was appearing before a special grand jury involving the watershed management department and its contracts.

Ellis appeared at the DeKalb County courthouse on Monday. He said he was subpoenaed, and spoke to a grand jury for about an hour.

The grand jury was convened by DeKalb District Attorney Robert James back in January of 2012 to look into the possible improprieties in the water and sewer departments.  James said earlier this year he wanted to find out if individuals were manipulating the bidding process.

Ellis says all his relations with vendors have been above board.

"As the CEO of the county, I talk to vendors who do business with the county. Some of whom are watershed management, but no inappropriate contact with any vendors," said Ellis.

Ellis told FOX 5 that the questioning was routine, and that he testified before the special grand jury in the past.

"We were here to talk to the grand jury about watershed management and the procurement process in DeKalb County. We've been here before. We've answered all of the questions truthfully and honestly and straightforward. And I've always directed my folks to cooperate with the grand jury, and make sure that they get all of the answers that they need," said Ellis.

As Ellis answered questions before the grand jury, investigators carried out seven search warrants, including a search at the CEO's West Ponce de Leon office and his home on Monday afternoon. FOX 5's Chris Shaw reports investigators left Ellis' home at around 1 p.m., carrying with them four boxes and a computer.

Search warrants obtained by FOX 5 News indicate investigators were looking for handwriting samples as well as personal and business financial records, including checking, savings, retirement and investment accounts.

Investigators want the CEO's tax returns, campaign records, computer hard drives and all consulting agreements with vendors doing business with DeKalb among other things.

One vendor, Rural/Metro, released a statement saying, "Rural/Metro has proudly served the emergency ambulance needs of DeKalb County citizens since 2010. In light of the ongoing nature of this investigation, the company can provide no comment at this time."

Ellis said he was surprised by the raid.

"I don't know that I'm a target. I do know that they want to look at some documentation," Ellis said. "It's a pretty broad warrant that they've issued. But again, I would have provided it."

The CEO said that he is "perplexed" by the investigation but wants voters to know that he will cooperate fully.

"I am going to continue to be honest. I'm going to continue to be transparent. I'm going to continue to work with all the officials involved in this process," said Ellis.

The warrants indicate investigators are looking for evidence of a number of criminal charges, such as racketeering, extortion, bribery, bid rigging, and theft concerning programs receiving federal funds.

One search warrant was for the CEO's American Express credit card account, thumb drives, cell phones and all email messages to a number of people including DeKalb's outgoing chief operating officer Richard Stoger. When reached by FOX 5, Stoger had no comment.

Ellis' 83-year-old mother was the only person at the CEO's home when it was searched. Late in the afternoon, a man picked her up and drove away.

Ellis is expected to run the DeKalb County Commission meeting when it meets on Tuesday at 10 a.m.

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