Suspended DeKalb County CEO sentenced to serve 18 months

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UPDATE: FOX 5 News has learned Burrell Ellis has been booked into the Coastal State Prison near Savannah.


Despite a courtroom full of supporters on his behalf and his own appeal for leniency, a judge sentenced suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis Wednesday to serve 18 months behind bars.

DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Courtney Johnson ordered Ellis to spend 18 months in custody and serve the remainder of the five years on probation.

Prosecutors contend Ellis pressured vendors for campaign contributions.

A DeKalb County jury found Ellis guilty on July 1st of perjury and attempted theft by extortion.

The jury acquitted Ellis of five other counts on charges that included bribery.

A jury of six men and six women deliberated for more than four days before reaching the verdicts.

Ellis maintained his innocence, saying he made phone calls, but didn't threaten anyone or take action against vendors' contracts.

At the sentencing hearing, Ellis told Judge Johnson, “I acknowledge that I contacted government vendors as part of my fund raising efforts, which off itself is a common legal practice. In doing so, I never once believed that I was in any way committing a crime or that my actions would be interpreted that way and I certainly never intended to do so.”

The judge could have sentenced him up to 15 years.

During the hearing, Judge Johnson told Ellis, “There are hundreds and thousands of victims in this case because of the number of citizens there are in DeKalb County. The county has suffered, not only because of your actions but the actions of others.”

The judge said she believed Ellis had good intentions when he was first elected, but later became more concerned for his own interests.

She told Ellis, “I have to tell you that throughout this process, what I have been waiting to hear is some acceptance of responsibility on your behalf. I don’t know that I heard that today. I think I heard a little bit of it.”

Despite a request by defense attorneys for an appeal bond, Judge Johnson ordered Ellis to be taken immediately into custody.

Supporters applauded as deputies took him from the courtroom.

DeKalb County spokesperson Burke Brennan told FOX 5 News that Ellis will remain suspended without pay during his appeal.