Two Forsyth City Coucilmen Plead Guilty to Accepting Bribes
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 03, 2013|
Michael J. Moore, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, announced that two former councilmen of the city of Forsyth, Georgia, James Edward Calloway and Desi Surtane Hansford, pled guilty in United States District Court in Macon, Georgia, to one count each of accepting bribes in connection with the performance of their official duties. Each man faces a maximum sentence of up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.
Facts stipulated in the written plea agreements of the two men show the following:
Mr. Calloway had been a councilman for 22 years and Mr. Hansford for five. Both served on the Combined Utilities Committee of the Council, which oversees electric, water, sewer, and telecommunications for the city of Forsyth.
On December 27, 2012, Mr. Calloway solicited a bribe from a water and waste treatment company of $20,000 to guarantee the votes to give it the water waste contract for the city. That company immediately notified the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the solicitation and cooperated fully and actively with that agency throughout the investigation, which revealed that at least in part Mr. Calloway’s motive in soliciting the payment was to help Councilman Hansford rescue his home from foreclosure.
A representative of the water and waste treatment company, cooperating with the FBI, met with the two councilmen on January 18, 2013, at a truck stop off I-75 in Jackson, Georgia, and paid them $10,000 in currency provided by the FBI while secretly recording the meeting per FBI instructions. Mr. Calloway assured the company representative that the company would recover the amount of the bribe through a future project on which the company would be employed. Following this meeting and payment, Mr. Calloway and Mr. Hansford split the money equally.
A second $10,000 payment was delivered to Mr. Calloway one week later, January 25, 2013, under similar circumstances to the first, after which he was immediately arrested and subsequently confessed. He also admitted receiving two Falcons playoff tickets from the company, which he and Mr. Hansford shared.
Mr. Calloway then cooperated with the government and participated in paying an additional $5,000 (half of the second $10,000 payment) to Mr. Hansford, who was then also arrested.
“The oath of public office is a sacred thing, and those who choose to seek public office should know that they must not betray the public’s trust. Bribes have no place in government contracting, and my office will use our resources to ensure that a few instances of corruption are not allowed to erode the public’s ability to trust the representatives they elect. I want to acknowledge the good work of the FBI and also thank the company officials who reported this criminal activity, choosing to put law and order over profit,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Moore.
Sentencing of the two men will take place in approximately 60 days.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sonja Profit.
For additional information please contact Sue McKinney, Public Affairs Specialist, United States Attorney’s Office at (478) 621-2602.