County Commissioner Pleads Guilty to Fraud

     ATLANTA (CN) – A long time DeKalb County Commissioner pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing more than $90,000 in taxpayer money, funneling it into her personal bank account.
     Elaine Boyer served as a commissioner for the suburban county outside of metro Atlanta for 22 years before abruptly resigning in August after federal prosecutors lodged mail fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy charges against her.
     “As an elected County Commissioner, Ms. Boyer had a duty to serve the best interests of the citizens of DeKalb County,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates in a written statement.
     “Instead of honoring that commitment, Ms. Boyer stole from the citizens she was sworn to serve by diverting thousands of dollars in county funds to her personal bank account and using her county-issued credit card like it was her own,” Yates said.
     In accepting Boyer’s plea, U.S. District Judge Orlinda Evans told the disgraced former county official she could be sentenced to up to 40 years in prison and subject to a $500,000 fine. However, prosecutors have recommended she be given a lesser sentence based on her guilty plea and other factors.
     Boyer admitted to her role in a two-year scheme involving a phony consultant and her personal use of a county Visa card. Federal charges accuse Boyer of taking more than $93,000 in taxpayer funds.
     An “advisor,” as yet unidentified, billed the county for phony work and shared the money with Boyer, prosecutors said. The county commissioner was also accused of using the county Visa card she was issued as if it was her personal card, charging things like family airfare and resort booking.
     Boyer, DeKalb County’s only Republican commissioner when she resigned, has already repaid almost $17,000 for the personal Visa purchases, according to her attorney, Jeff Brickman.
     In an interview with WSB-TV in Atlanta, Brickman said his client was very sorry for her actions.
     “She acknowledges she’s abused the trust of DeKalb County,” he told the station. “Mrs. Boyer is well aware there is a possibility she could go to prison.”
     According to Yates, Boyer was able to carry out her scheme because when it comes to finances, each of the seven DeKalb County commissioners is responsible for the management of their respective offices, which includes controlling the offices’ budget and hiring staff members, contractors, and consultants. In recent years, the operating budget for a Commissioner’s office has been approximately $250,000 per year. The Commissioners may use their budget only for county-related business.
     Boyer sat on the commission’s Finance, Budget, and Audit Committee and was the Chairwoman of the Employee Relations and Community Services Committee. Her term was to expire in 2016.
     County officials are looking into reducing or revoking Boyer’s pension benefits while the DeKalb Board of Ethics is considering further investigation of complaints against her.
     Boyer is scheduled to be sentenced on December 2.

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