Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Former DeKalb tax supervisor gets two years in prison for bribery

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Gerald D. Harris, a former supervisor in DeKalb County’s Tax Commissioner’s Office, has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for accepting bribe payments from customers to unlawfully register vehicles and for attempting to blackmail a bribe payer by threatening to inform her to the FBI.

“By accepting bribe payments, Harris sold his integrity for money – and, in doing so, betrayed the trust of the citizens of DeKalb County,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak in a statement. “Then, in a truly bold display of audacity, Harris tried to blackmail one of the individuals who had previously paid him bribes.”

From July 2017 to November 2019, Harris served as the Supervisor of Tax Tag Clerks for the DeKalb County Tax Commissioner’s Office. In that position, Harris oversaw the Tax Commissioner – North Office’s clerks who processed motor vehicle registrations and renewals for customers.

From approximately November 2018 to November 2019, Harris accepted bribe payments from customers to unlawfully register vehicles or renew vehicle registrations. For example, Harris accepted bribe payments:

  • To register vehicles to individuals who did not have Georgia driver’s licenses or identification cards as required, typically in exchange for $200 per vehicle;
  • To register vehicles that did not have the required accompanying documentation (such as: titles or Forms MV-1 title/tag application), typically in exchange for $500 to $1,000 per vehicle; and
  • To renew vehicles that had not passed emissions tests by falsely entering that the vehicles had emissions exemptions, typically in exchange for $100 per vehicle.

In total, Harris accepted more than $35,000 in bribe payments.

“Harris’ flaunting of the law tarnished every government official and erodes the public’s trust in their positions,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Now we must work even harder with our partners in law enforcement to regain that trust and hopefully this sentencing is a step in that direction.”

“Mr. Harris traded his integrity for money and, in doing so, dishonored the hard work and dedication exemplified by the vast majority of DeKalb County employees.  Today, Mr. Harris is being held accountable for his crimes.  The DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office, along with its law enforcement partners, will continue to seek and root out corruption, restoring the public’s trust in its government,” said DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston.

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