Democrat Official To Only Get Probation After Extortion Case

Democrat Official To Only Get Probation After

( – DeKalb County, Georgia, has a long-standing reputation for being a haven for corrupt officials. For instance, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution once discussed the “brazenness of corruption” by pointing to the award of a more than $2 million-per-year contract to a fake tree-trimming company created by an individual who didn’t even own a chainsaw. A former Democratic official recently learned she would only get probation for extortion.

On February 14, US District Judge Mark H. Cohen sentenced former DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton to three years probation and ordered her to pay a $3,200 fine. She has to serve the first nine months of her sentence in home confinement. Sutton faced up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Sutton threw herself on the mercy of the court, telling Judge Cohen she was “ashamed” to find herself in a courtroom awaiting sentencing, adding she never imagined herself accused of “doing something wrong.” Judge Cohen noted Sutton wasn’t at the center of the corruption in the 2010s that plagued DeKalb County when he handed down her sentence.

However, not everyone agreed with the judge’s sentence. Local ABC affiliate WSB-TV reported that county residents thought Sutton “got off easy.” For example, Barrington Levy said he himself wouldn’t have gotten off with probation if he had done something like her. Another person expressed disappointment in the sentence, telling the station she expected the former commissioner would get a “weightier sentence” due to her position of public trust.

The sentencing hearing took place roughly three months after a one-week trial in November 2022 ended with Sutton’s conviction on two counts of extortion.

Prosecutors presented evidence at Sutton’s trial that she demanded $500 a month from a subcontractor nine years ago who feared losing a contract to build a wastewater treatment facility. That individual made the first two payments in June and July 2014 before FBI agents disrupted her scheme. She also reportedly accepted a $5,000 bribe from an FBI source conducting business before the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners.

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