Indicted DeKalb CEO to staff: Stay focused and encouraged - FOX 35 News Orlando

Indicted DeKalb CEO to staff: Stay focused and encouraged

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DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis spoke to a standing-room only crowd of county employees on Monday. DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis spoke to a standing-room only crowd of county employees on Monday.

Despite being at the center of a scandalous indictment, CEO Burrell Ellis delivered his stakeholder second-term report on Monday afternoon.  He emphatically denied doing anything wrong, and he asked the 6,000 county workers to stay focused on the job ahead.

The employee assembly was held at the Maloof Auditorium in Decatur, and it was standing-room only.  Ellis had his wife, Philappa, by his side. 

Though Ellis continues as DeKalb CEO after a grand jury handed down a 15-count indictment, his future at that post remains uncertain.  Last Thursday, Gov. Nathan Deal received Ellis' indictment and was notified that he has 14 days to form a three-person commission to determine whether Ellis should be suspended from office.  Deal was given the indictment in a letter from DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James.
The indictment accuses Ellis of trying to extort campaign contributions from companies and their employees. The indictment also alleges that Ellis instructed the county's director of purchasing and contracting to prevent certain companies from getting business because they didn't respond to his solicitations and didn't contribute to his campaign.
Ellis told county workers on Monday that while the events of the last week caught many by surprise, he has done nothing wrong.  He went on to thank them for their "amazing" work in the first six months of his second term, and he questioned those who have been absent. 

"I don't know what you may have heard, and if someone thinks I haven't been here, I don't know where they have been-- because they've not been paying attention," Ellis said.

Ellis touched on his support for cost of living raises, and then closed his 15-minute chat by pledging his commitment to his job, and asking employees to pray.  Reaction to his comments was mixed among those who attended. 

After the voluntary staff meeting, Ellis' legal team held a news conference.  Ellis has hired Craig Gillen as lead counsel, and former District Attorney J. Tom Morgan and attorneys Anthony Lake and John Petrey are also on his team.  Petrey said Ellis is a personal friend and a man of integrity.

"His family is friends to me," said Petrey.  "My family is friends to him.  He is an honest person. He is steadfastly and staunchly a supporter of fairness and honesty in government, and I absolutely feel privileged to be up here and stand before you and tell you I believe in Burrell Ellis."

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