5:53 am October 27, 2010, by Henry Unger
Gwinnett County commissioners paid millions of dollars too much for parkland in a series of deals that used taxpayer money to bail out commissioners’ friends and associates, a special grand jury concluded, AJC staffers Andria Simmons and David Wickert report.
The grand jury’s report, unsealed Tuesday, discloses that the grand jury was prepared to indict then-Commission Chairman Charles Bannister on a perjury charge when he offered Oct. 8 to step down, Simmons and Wickert write. In effect, he gave up his office to avoid prosecution.
The 10-month inquiry, prompted by reports in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution calling the land deals into question, continues to rock the state’s second-most populous county, the reporters say.
In addition to toppling Bannister, the grand jury also indicted the county’s longest-serving commissioner, Kevin Kenerly, on bribery charges, criticized a former Superior Court judge for his involvement in one of the land deals and, in its report, blistered the county for lax land-purchasing procedures and an outdated ethics policy, Simmons and Wickert write.
“We have seen decisions involving millions of dollars made with little or no information for the most venal reasons,” the report concluded.
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