Ex-DeKalb Commissioner Boyer could do less than two years

Author: Johnny Edwards, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The plea deal that Elaine Boyer struck with federal prosecutors could have her serving less than two years in prison for systematically funneling more than $90,000 in taxpayer money to herself.

In exchange for her resignation as a DeKalb County commissioner, her cooperation and her acceptance of responsibility, the U.S. Attorney’s office will recommend she be sentenced to “the low end of the adjusted guideline range,” or 18 to 24 months.

In the federal system, which has no parole, Boyer would be required to serve 85 percent of her sentence.

The plea agreement was made public Thursday morning, the day after Boyer formally pleaded guilty in a federal courtroom in downtown Atlanta.

U.S. District Judge Orinda Evans does not have to abide by the deal. For mail fraud conspiracy and wire fraud, Boyer faces a maximum of 40 years in prison and $500,000 in fines, but such extremes are highly unlikely.

Evans could give Boyer no prison time at all, if she so chooses.

“Public pressure is irrelevant” to a federal judge, said Zahra Karinshak, a white-collar criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor. “I don’t know that federal judges really get into the whole ‘let’s send a message’ thing.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Davis said the government will also seek restitution from Boyer for about $90,000, of which she has already paid nearly $17,000. About $8,000 of that she paid to the county as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution pressed her for receipts documenting personal purchases.

Boyer has pleaded guilty to a kickback scheme where an evangelist, posing as a consultant, received more than $78,000 in checks from DeKalb County. He put about $58,000 of that into Boyer’s personal account, and kept the rest for himself.

The ex-commissioner also spent years using her county-issued Visa card as if it were her personal debit card, tapping taxpayers to pay for airline tickets, rental cars, a ski resort booking and personal cell phone charges.

The AJC exposed her misuse of her Visa card in March, triggering an FBI investigation of all DeKalb commissioners’ discretionary spending.