DeKalb supervisor pleads guilty
3:39 pm, April 4th, 2012
A supervisor in DeKalb County’s Public Works Department pleaded guilty today to federal extortion charges, federal prosecutors in Atlanta said.
Fidelis Ogbu, 59, a county engineering supervisor, engaged in a “pay to play” scheme in which he asked a county contractor who had been awarded a $1.4 million federally-funded project to build county sidewalks in DeKalb County to “grease my palms” if he wanted another contract worth $30,000 to $50,000 to construct a private driveway.
Ogbu also told the contractor – who was, unbeknownst to Ogbu, acting as a confidential “good Samaritan source” for the FBI – to submit a fraudulently inflated $65,000 estimate for the work and then pay $30,000 in cash to Ogbu, according to an affidavit attached to Ogbu’s arrest warrant.
Between August and November of last year, the contractor met with Ogbu three times, paying him a $9,800 bribe on Aug. 31, $8,500 on Sept. 16 and a final $9,800 payment on Nov. 4, according to the affidavit.
At the August meeting in a Kroger parking lot in DeKalb County, Ogbu instructed the contractor to hide the cash amid some paperwork he had brought with him. FBI agents arrested Ogbu after he accepted the cash bribe on Nov. 4, according to the affidavit.
Sally Quillian Yates, U.S. Attorney for Georgia’s Northern District, said, “The citizens of DeKalb County deserve to have public servants within the DeKalb County Department of Public Works who fairly and honestly perform their jobs. During Mr. Obgu’s tenure as a public official with DeKalb County, he violated both the law and the public’s trust by extorting money in return for awarding a contract. He must be held accountable for his dishonest acts.”
Ogbu faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. A sentencing date has not been set.
Ogbu’s attorney, Daniel Kane, said he pleaded guilty to extorting approximately $14,800 – a sum that Kane’s co-counsel in the case, Judy Kim, said that he has already largely repaid. “He regrets his conduct,” Kane continued, “and is willing to responsibly address the consequences.”
Ogbu’s lawyers said Obgu was suspended with pay last November after his arrest. The county terminated him two weeks ago. Ogbu, they said, had worked for the county 18 years.