Boyer facing up to 40 years on fraud charges

blackpast.org | 9/5/2014, 6:43 a.m.

Former DeKalb Commissioner Elaine Boyer pleaded guilty on Sept. 3 to federal charges of mail and wire fraud and is facing more than 40 years in jail.

She will be sentenced on Dec. 3 at 3 p.m. in federal court. In addition to prison time, Boyer, who represented the affluent North DeKalb District 1 for 22 years, faces a $500,000 fine and restitution.

Boyer, 57, is accused of pocketing more than $90,000 in taxpayer money.

During the 30-minute plea hearing in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Orinda Evans in Atlanta, Boyer showed no emotion.

After the hearing, she tearfully hugged friends and relatives who turned out to support her.

When the judge asked if she understood the charges and the implications of her guilty plea, Boyer replied, “Yes, your honor.”

Evans then asked if she knowingly defrauded the people of DeKalb County.

“Yes, your honor,” she replied again.

Evans told Boyer she could face up to 40 years in prison but that prosecutors had recommended she receive a lesser sentence based on her guilty plea and other factors.

Court documents released Thursday said Boyer and prosecutors reached a deal that gives her 18 to 24 months in prison. The final decision on sentencing is up to the judge.

Boyer is cooperating with the ongoing federal investigation. On Aug. 25 when she abruptly resigned her seat, Boyer said in a WSB-TV interview that she was sorry.

“I’ve betrayed the people and I’ve abused my position of power,” she said.

Because of her plea, there was no grand jury indictment, but in their court filing of the criminal charges, prosecutors accused Boyer of engineering a two-year kickback scheme in which a phony consultant/adviser invoiced her for $78,000 and deposited 75 percent or $58,000 of the funds to her personal bank account. “Advisor” kept about $20,000 for himself, prosecutors said.

She also is accused of abusing her county-issued Visa purchasing card for personal purchases, including family ski trips to Colorado.

The mail fraud charge stemmed from the invoice scheme in which the county mailed payments of $1,500 to $5,000 between late 2009 to late 2011 to the “advisor,” who was unnamed in the criminal filings, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which examined the payments from Boyer’s office, said the payments on the phony invoices were made to evangelist Rooks Boynton. In the complaint, U.S. Attorney Sally Yates said Boyer used her $250,000 office operating budget to pay the consultant, claiming that he gave her advice and did research on transportation, legislative issues and Grady Hospital.

“Based on requisition requests from Boyer, DeKalb County mailed, via the United States Postal Service, approximately 35 checks to Advisor for consulting services that were never performed,” the complaint said.

The wire fraud charge came from Boyer’s use of her P-Card between October 2010 and February 2014 to “make more than 50 personal purchases” totaling more than $15,000 for family airline tickets, rental cars, a ski resort booking and personal cell phone charges. The wire fraud charge stems from a May 30, 2012, electronic payment on her P-Card purchases for a $344.60 airline ticket for travel unrelated to her duties as a commissioner.

Boyer, who was DeKalb’s longest-serving commissioner, resigned the day before her bond hearing.

Jeff Brickman, her attorney, said she knows what is ahead of her.

“Mrs. Boyer is well aware there is a possibility she could go to prison,” he said after Boyer’s bond hearing on Aug. 26.

Federal prosecutors say the case against Boyer is part of a larger investigation into corruption in DeKalb government.