Former Georgia Department of Transportation Employee Charged with Accepting Bribes
ATLANTA - George H. Bell, a former employee of the Georgia Department of Transportation, has been arraigned on federal charges of conspiracy and accepting bribes. Bell was indicted by a federal grand jury on August 11, 2015.
“This defendant is charged with using his position with the Georgia Department of Transportation to benefit himself at the expense of the environment,” said U.S. Attorney John Horn. “His alleged conduct resulted in enormous clean-up costs to the Georgia Department of Transportation as well as environmental damage.”
“The FBI places a high priority on public corruption based investigations because they often ignore due process put in place to protect others. This case involves allegations of a State of Georgia official accepting bribes as he ignored environment laws put in place to protect so many,” said J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office.
“Corruption in state government will not be tolerated. This case is an excellent example of state and federal law enforcement working together to insure government employees who are corrupt are held accountable,” said Vernon Keenan, Director, Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
“We are appalled by the corrupt actions of these lone individuals that in no way reflect the hard work and commitment displayed by more than 4,100 GDOT employees. We will exercise all legal actions to recover the costs associated with cleaning up these sites and ensure that every effort is made to correct the damage to the impacted sites once the investigation is closed,” said Commissioner Russell McMurry, Georgia Department of Transportation.
According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges, and other information presented in court: Bell was a supervisor with the Georgia Department of Transportation. In 2014, he began soliciting and accepting cash payments in exchange for allowing various individuals to dump unsuitable dirt in several GDOT locations. Unsuitable dirt is dirt that is removed during construction or landscaping projects, and cannot be used for other projects, usually because it contains organic material that would decompose and create problems for building on top of it. Bell is alleged to have allowed the unauthorized dumping to occur on at least four different GDOT sites.
George H. Bell, 49, of Lithonia, Ga., was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan J. Baverman.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Public Corruption Task Force, including the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia Department of Transportation Investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamie L. Mickelson is prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.