Stonecrest mayor accused of receiving $50K kickback from church
STONECREST, Ga. - A new report outlines new accusations Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary accepted kickbacks from businesses and churches that received federal COVID-10 CARES Act funding.
The report, compiled by the city attorney for Stonecrest, details allegations Union Missionary Baptist Church received $150,000 in federal relief funds from the CARES Act, then paid $50,000 to a real estate company reportedly owned by Lary.
The report also indicates Lary is a deacon and a trustee at the Lithonia church.
"Those activities were deliberate, intentional, and disguised to deceive," said Democratic Georgia Senator Emanuel Jones.
Jones wrote the legislation that changed Stonecrest's charter and stripped Lary's mayoral powers.
"Alma Byrd, who works as the church and is the bookkeeper there is also the CFO for VisitUs.Org, one of these shell companies that the mayor used allegedly to funnel what some consider a kickback scheme back to his companies," Jones said.
Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary (City of Stonecrest)
Senator Emanuel Jones is leading the push to get Governor Brian Kemp to remove Mayor Lary from office. He said church administrators came forward in mid-April after an initial 400-page report outlined similar allegations that Lary's businesses or business associates received kickbacks from several of the 138 companies that received some of the $6.2 million dollars in funding.
"It appears as if this church was simply used as a conduit for his ill-gotten activities," said Jones, who added more than $2 million is still unaccounted for.
The mayor has denied claims he did anything criminal or unethical.
"I had no decision making or administration role of the COVID award grants. I'm prayerful that those who received the grants helped the people in need," Mayor Lary said in a telephone text statement to Bruner.
Every church and non-profit COVID-19 awardees were unsolicited and the COVID-19 committee did the selection," Lary added Monday.
But Senator Jones believes the mayor and the mayor's colleagues were intentionally deceptive.
"City council was not informed. They were not in the loop. They did not agree with this, so there was a group of individuals who colluded with themselves to ensure that their trail would be covered up," said Senator Jones.
Jones said the latest allegations in this report will be turned over to investigators from the Department of Justice and the FBI.
FOX 5 tried to reach Union Missionary Baptist Church for comment, but no one returned the phone calls or answered a knock at the church door.
WATCH: FOX 5 Atlanta live news coverage
Sign up for FOX 5 email alerts
Download the FOX 5 Atlanta app for breaking news and weather alerts.