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Federal charges filed against ex-DeKalb County official

By Kate Brumback | 8/29/2014, 6:39 p.m.
A former DeKalb County commissioner used a charge card to buy airline tickets and hotel rooms for personal travel and ...
Voters can replace disgraced former DeKalb Commissioner Elaine Boyer on Nov. 4.

ATLANTA (AP) - A former DeKalb County commissioner used a charge card to buy airline tickets and hotel rooms for personal travel and spent other public money on purchases at high-end department stores, federal prosecutors said.

Elaine Boyer appeared in federal court Tuesday, a day after she resigned from the position she’d held for more than 20 years. She waived indictment and her lawyer said she’ll plead guilty to the two charges against her. She is cooperating with authorities in a broader investigation in DeKalb County, one of Georgia’s largest counties that includes several of Atlanta’s eastern suburbs, her attorney said.

Boyer is accused of using invoices to authorize payments to an adviser, who is not named in a criminal complaint. As a result, between September 2009 and November 2011, DeKalb County mailed about 35 checks totaling more than $78,000 to the adviser, who in turn funneled about 75 percent of that money into Boyer’s personal bank account, according to the court filing.

Boyer is also accused of using a county Visa purchasing card to make more than 50 personal purchases for herself and her family for personal travel, according to the filing. Prosecutors also say she used the card to make $15,000 in purchases for personal goods and services from October 2010 to February 2014.

An investigation by WSB-TV and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution highlighted $16,000 in personal purchases Boyer made with her county purchasing card. The television station reported that Boyer had already repaid about half the charges before the investigation began, and has since repaid all of the money.

U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates told reporters that instead of honoring her constituents’ trust, Boyer “was using the funds of the county like her own personal piggy bank.’’

Authorities continue to investigate other people in DeKalb County - including other commissioners and the unnamed adviser named in the Tuesday’s court filing, Yates said, declining to elaborate further on the investigation.

Boyer has been interviewed and her cooperation could be a mitigating factor when it comes time for sentencing, Yates said. She stressed that her office will push for prison time.

“This is a serious crime,’’ Yates said. “She’s cooperating now, after she was caught.’’

Before her resignation, Boyer told WSB-TV that she was unaware what she was doing was wrong, despite having signed an agreement saying that county-issued purchasing cards couldn’t be used for personal expenses.

Boyer’s attorney, Jeff Brickman, said his client is remorseful for what she has done and is fully aware that what she did was completely unlawful.

“It casts a shadow on what is otherwise a stellar career,’’ Brickman said.

Boyer was released on $25,000 signature bond - which means she only has to pay if she doesn’t show up for court appearances or otherwise fails to follow the court’s orders - and is expected to formally enter her guilty plea at a hearing Sept. 3, according to court records.