They also searched the Atlanta offices of Ellis’ friend and former campaign manager Kevin Ross, and took archived email messages for Ellis and a number of his assistants and department heads from the county’s IT department. Investigators also searched the county’s finance, elections, and purchasing and contracting offices.
Ellis said he was perplexed by the raids.
“I have done nothing wrong,” he said. “I can’t imagine anything in my home, office or personal effects that would raise an eyebrow.”
The seven search warrants, signed by DeKalb Superior Court Judge Cynthia J. Becker on Jan. 4 and executed at around 10 a.m. Monday, sought “any and all” records pertaining to the county’s contracts for probation services, lobbying, ambulance services, and its Watershed Management Capital Improvement Program. At the county’s Finance Office, they were in search of Ellis’ American Express credit card records, and at the Elections Office, his campaign finance disclosure records.
The warrant on Ross sought documents pertaining to the DeKalb County probation services contract, lobbying contracts, and ambulance services, and specifically “any and all documents associated with Sentinel Probation Services, Montgomery Watson, Rural Metro Ambulance, Massey-Bowers, and the Ferguson Group."
Ellis, who took the oath of office for his second and final four-year term as CEO, was testifying before a special grand jury on Jan. 7 when detectives raided his home and office.
He told reporters at a 12:30 p.m. press conference that he was handed the search warrant at the end of his one-hour testimony before the special grand jury.
It was his second time appearing before the grand jury, which has been investigating county contracting for more than a year.
The search warrants said they are seeking information under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO), extortion, bribery, theft by taking and influence peddling laws. At Ellis’ home in the Southland subdivision in Stone Mountain, investigators were seen leaving with a computer hard drive and boxes of evidence.
The search warrant said investigators were looking for vehicles registered or assigned to Ellis, and personal and business financial records including checking accounts, savings accounts, retirement and investment accounts, tax returns, safe deposit box keys and storage devices.
Ellis said he is cooperating fully with the grand jury and has instructed his staff to do the same.
During his testimony on Monday, he said he was asked about how the county lets contracts but declined to go into specifics because of the ongoing investigation.
“My staff hasn’t done anything inappropriate, “ said Ellis. “I haven’t done anything inappropriate that I’m aware of.”
Ellis’ 83-year-old mother, who is visiting from Washington, D.C., and attended his Jan. 3 “unity inauguration,” was at the house when detectives arrived with the warrant.
She let the officers in before going next door to sit with a neighbor while the team did its work.
To a question about his compaign contributions, Ellis said he may have received campaign contributions from county vendors but never promised anything in return.
“I’m CEO,” he said. “I talk to a lot of vendors. I have done nothing inappropriate.”
Ellis said the search warrants are extraordinarily broad.
“I don’t know what they are looking for,” he said. “I have a safe in the house. I gave them the combination. I expect they will leave a list of things they have taken.”
Ellis, who is a lawyer, said Monday that he did not have an attorney yet but intends to get one.
“I am not represented now, but I am going to get counsel to protect my family,” he said.