I-Team: Former mayor Jason Lary admits role in COVID relief fraud scheme

By Randy Travis Published January 5, 2022 ATLANTA - After spending nearly a year proclaiming his innocence, former Stonecrest mayor Jason Lary admitted masterminding a scheme to steal COVID relief funds. The about-face came in federal court before Judge Thomas Thrash. Total amount stolen: more than $650,000. Lary, 59, pleaded guilty to one count each of wire fraud, conspiracy and federal program theft. His plea came the same morning his resignation as mayor of Stonecrest became official. He made no statements in court other than confirming his guilt and the facts of the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Trevor Wilmot told the court Lary concocted a scheme to divert funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. As mayor, he took control of who received $6.2 million in CARES Act money. Lary asked potential recipients to kickback 25% of their grant to other companies for "marketing" purposes. Lary did not disclose he controlled these companies. The government said no marketing was ever done. Wilmot said Lary used some of that stolen money to pay off the $108,147 mortgage on his lakefront home in Macon. He also settled income taxes he owed going back to 2015. "I’m not sitting here jumping up and down saying whoopee," said Diane Adoma who lost to Lary in the last mayoral election. "But I do stand for government accountability. And I stand for transparency." She thinks Lary should get a sentence that includes prison. The maximum he faces is 35 years. He’s due back in court May 2. In exchange for his cooperation, the government promised to seek a lesser sentence. Lania Boone, a bookkeeper Lary hired for one of his companies, still faces similar charges. Last year the Northern District of Georgia US Attorney's office prosecuted at least 100 people involved in a total of $26 million in CARES Act fraud. The city of Stonecrest could hold a special election as early as March to decide Lary’s replacement. A former health care executive, Lary was instrumental in convincing the General Assembly to create the city of Stonecrest along I-20 in south DeKalb County. The population is now 60,000 with a budget of more than $13 million. Lary won the mayor’s race twice, the city’s only mayor in its brief history. Yet on the day he pleaded guilty, he walked into the courthouse by himself. No family, no supporters. And on this last day as mayor, no more excuses. FULL STORY: https://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/former-mayor-admits-role-in-covid-relief-fraud-scheme

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