Yet another Democrat has been caught stealing money from us. A former Democrat mayor from Georgia has been sentenced to 5 years in prison following being caught planning a scheme to steal over $925,000 out of the total $6.2 million in COVID-19 relief funding that his city was responsible for handing out.
Stonecrest ex-mayor Jason Lary was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash to 57 months in jail and was also ordered to pay restitution in the total amount of $120,000.
The 60-year-old ex-mayor plead guilt back in January to wire fraud, federal program theft, as well as conspiracy to commit federal program theft.
Here’s what Judge Thrash said during sentencing:
“What he did was deplorable. Absolutely deplorable. At the time of the greatest medical and economic catastrophe in generations, Mr. Lary, instead of being the honest and respectable mayor that he was elected to be … used that as an opportunity to steal.”
According to WSB Radio, Lary used the stolen relief money to pay off debts and offered grants to churches and small businesses with the condition that they would return some of the funding back to companies connected to him.
Here’s what U.S. Attorney Ryan Buchanan said:
“Lary betrayed the trust placed in him by the citizens of Stonecrest by stealing the very funds meant to help his constituents weather the COVID-19 pandemic. The people of Stonecrest deserved better, and corrupt officials can expect severe consequences for using their offices to commit crimes.”
In order to continue his treatment for prostate cancer and lymphedema, Lary began his stay in prison in early December.
More details of this report from The New York Times:
In July 2020, DeKalb County authorized a grant of $6.2 million to Stonecrest, a city of fewer than 60,000 people, for public health expenses and support for small businesses. Mr. Lary, 60, who had been mayor since 2016, routed relief funds through a private company he formed, the authorities said.
The company’s bookkeeper, Lania Boone, transferred about $108,000 to a mortgage servicing company, which both Mr. Lary and Ms. Boone knew was a tactic for him to pay off the mortgage, according to the authorities. Mr. Lary also directed about $7,600 to be used by Ms. Boone’s son for his college meal plan, tuition, and rent, according to the indictment in his case.
Lania Boone pleaded guilty to conspiracy in February, and she is scheduled to be sentenced in August. A lawyer for Ms. Boone did not immediately reply to a request for comment about Mr. Lary’s sentencing on Wednesday night.
Mr. Lary used other companies he controlled as fronts to defraud beneficiaries of government funds, directing small businesses and churches to give hundreds of thousands of dollars to his companies without admitting his involvement in them, the Justice Department said. The authorities added that he used that money to pay for outstanding tax liabilities and political advertising.
In the fall of 2021, the authorities said, they seized about $480,000 from two of the companies, Visit Us and Battleground Media. Mr. Lary resigned as mayor in January.
Keri Farley, the special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Atlanta, said in a statement:
“It is extremely disheartening when an elected official, someone sworn to protect the community they serve, violates that oath by stealing relief funds intended to aid their community.”
“This sentencing holds Lary accountable for abusing his position of trust and blatant disrespect for the law.”
#BREAKING: Jason Lary, founding mayor of Stonecrest, will serve nearly five years in prison for pocketing COVID-19 relief money meant for the businesses, churches and people of the city he helped create. https://t.co/M1fmOIbdVQ
— Atlanta Journal-Constitution (@ajc) July 13, 2022
Jason Lary – the first mayor of Stonecrest, a small city of about 60,000 people east of Atlanta founded through a 2016 DeKalb County ballot initiative – pleaded guilty in January to wire fraud, stealing federal program money and conspiracyhttps://t.co/x94OuChThn
— HumanityLover (@Mori4Real) July 14, 2022
Many Stonecrest residents felt the punishment should have been more severe:
“I don’t think he got enough time. I really don’t, because other people who did this as individuals for themselves, they got more time,” said Stonecrest resident Faye Coffield.
“We don’t know how many of those people lost their businesses or face hardship because of what he did,” Coffield added.
“Until you apologize, you haven’t taken responsibility, and we want this to be a message to everyone who lives in Stonecrest. Don’t bring it here,” another resident said.
Sources: Conservativebrief, The New York Times, WSB Radio