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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Georgia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 1, 2021

Georgia woman sentenced for bribing former supervisor in the DeKalb County Tax Commissioner’s Office

ATLANTA – Lesbia Lily Gonzalez Moreno has been sentenced for paying bribes to Gerald D. Harris, a former Supervisor in the DeKalb County Tax Commissioner’s Office, in exchange for Harris unlawfully registering vehicles.

“For months, Moreno paid bribes to illegally register vehicles without the necessary documentation,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “This corruption betrayed the trust of our citizens in government and undermined public safety.”

“When citizens like Moreno pay bribes to public officials they are part of a crime that tarnishes every government official and betrays the trust of our citizens in those officials,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Along with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, the FBI is hopeful the punishment she receives will help restore the public’s trust.”

“Ms. Moreno is rightfully being held accountable for her actions. It is our hope her sentence will deter others from engaging in corruption and schemes to defraud the government and betray public trust,” said. Sherry Boston, DeKalb County District Attorney.

“The Georgia Department of Revenue was proud to assist our federal partners in the course of this investigation. The Department’s Motor Vehicle Division is responsible for motor vehicle tag and title processing and registration statewide. Our duties include ensuring that there is integrity throughout this process and so we will continue to work diligently with both our federal and local partners to enforce the law and maintain the public trust,” said Commissioner Robyn A. Crittenden, Georgia Department of Revenue.

According to Acting U.S. Attorney Erskine, the charges, and other information presented in court: the DeKalb County Tax Commissioner’s Office is an agency of DeKalb County, Georgia, responsible for billing and collecting property taxes, processing Homestead Exemptions, and collecting delinquent taxes. In addition, the Motor Vehicle Division of the DeKalb County Tax Commissioner’s Office handled all aspects of motor vehicle registrations, including: (a) managing the collection of motor vehicle taxes, (b) issuing vehicle tags and titles, and (c) processing vehicle registration renewals for citizens and businesses located in DeKalb County, Georgia.

From July 2017 to November 2019, Gerald D. 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. As a supervisor, Harris generally interacted with customers only if a dispute existed between clerks and customers. Similarly, based on his supervisory role, the Motor Vehicle Division did not issue Harris a cash drawer or a credit card terminal, nor was Harris responsible for processing transactions or payments with customers.

From at least May 2019 to November 12, 2019, Lesbia Lily Gonzalez Moreno repeatedly paid Harris bribe payments to register unlawfully vehicles for owners who did not present a valid Georgia driver’s license or identification card. Under state law, a vehicle owner cannot register a vehicle or receive a license plate unless they present a valid Georgia driver’s license or identification card at the time of application. Nevertheless, in exchange for bribe payments, typically $200 per vehicle, Harris unlawfully registered and obtained license plates for owners identified by Moreno. In many cases, Moreno paid bribes to register vehicles for people who presented only foreign identification documents. During this period, Moreno paid Harris more than $20,000 in bribe payments.

On July 14, 2020, Harris pleaded guilty to federal program bribery and blackmail, and was sentenced to two years in prison and three years of supervised release.

Lesbia Lily Gonzalez Moreno, 47, of Atlanta, Georgia was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten to one year, one month in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, after she pleaded guilty to the charge of honest services wire fraud on June 22, 2021.

The case was investigated by the FBI, DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office, Georgia Department of Revenue, and DeKalb County Tax Commissioner’s Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Hartigan prosecuted 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.

Topic(s): 
Public Corruption
Updated November 1, 2021