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UPDATED: County Commissioner Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribes

Officials say Lasseter and her son also attempted to leverage Lasseter’s position to "enrich themselves personally from the proposed privatization of the Gwinnett County Airport."

Gwinnett County District 1 Commissioner Shirley Lasseter entered a guilty plea today in federal court on charges she accepted bribes in return for her support for a proposed real estate development.

According to a press release from the United States Attorney's Office, Lasseter’s son, John Fanning, 34, of Dacula, and Carl “Skip” Cain, 65, of Flowery Branch, an associate of Lasseter’s, also entered guilty pleas in connection to the bribery scheme and to drug trafficking.

“Today’s guilty pleas are part of an on-going effort to root out public corruption in Gwinnett County,” said U.S. Attorney Sally Yates in a released statement.  “The citizens of Gwinnett County have a right to elected officials who serve the public.  Instead, these defendants used the office of a County Commissioner to line their pockets by taking payoffs from individuals whom they believed to be drug traffickers.  These defendants broke the public trust and the law.  We will continue to aggressively pursue corrupt public officials and those who conspire with them.”

Lasseter, a former Duluth mayor, was elected to the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners in 2009. In 2011, she appointed her son Fanning to the Gwinnett County Zoning Appeals Board. Fanning, who operates a landscaping business, along with Lasseter and Cain agreed to sell Lasseter's vote in favor of a proposed real estate development. The agreement was made with an undercover agent of the FBI posing as a businessman.

Cain arranged the bribes and set up the meetings for the payments to be made, according to the United States Attorney's Office. 

"In multiple meetings, Lasseter and Fanning told the undercover agent that Lasseter’s approval and vote regarding the proposed development was for sale.  They also told the undercover agent that Fanning could use his position as a member of the Zoning Appeals Board to help secure any necessary approvals or variances," the press release stated.  

During the undercover investigation, the following arrangements were made in return for Lasseter's approval and official vote:

  • Lasseter received a total of $36,500 in cash. Lasseter confirmed to the undercover agent that she would give her official approval and vote for the proposed development each time she received a cash payment.     
  • Cain was paid a total of $10,000 to arrange the meetings between Lasseter, Fanning and the undercover agent.
  • Fanning was to receive an ownership stake in a business to be located in the proposed development. 
  • Fanning and Cain also each laundered $10,000 cash and acted as couriers delivering what they believed to be cocaine and drug money. They were taken into custody before they could deliver the fake cocaine.       

Lasseter, Fanning, and Cain also reportedly expressed an interest in working with the undercover agent on additional matters involving misuse of Lasseter’s official position and other illegal activities. Included among these matters was the controversial privatization of the Gwinnett County Airport.  

"Lasseter and Fanning sought to enlist the agent’s help as a 'bag man' in leveraging Lasseter’s official position to enrich themselves personally from the proposed privatization of the Gwinnett County Airport," the press release stated.

According to the United States Attorney's Office, all three defendants are cooperating with law enforcement. Lasseter was charged on May 31, 2012 with corruptly soliciting and accepting a bribe. She has pleaded guilty and could receive a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Fanning and Cain were charged with participating in the bribery scheme and with drug trafficking. Both pleaded guilty and are facing up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on the bribery count. Both men face a mandatory minimum sentence of five years on the drug trafficking count, which, according to officials, carries a maximum sentence of 40 years and a fine of up to $5 million. 

Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 6, 2012.

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  •  (regarding airport issue)
Floyd Akridge June 01, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Crystal...read the article. Porter requested the investigation of the government.
Crystal Huskey June 01, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Yes, Floyd, but why?
M.K. OSBORNE June 01, 2012 at 09:48 PM
That brought tears to my eyes .
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew June 02, 2012 at 02:19 AM
Sorry, that tear may actually be due to the onions in my burrito... I.M. Insubordinate
M.K. OSBORNE June 02, 2012 at 02:57 PM
R please dont make accusations against the onion , what ....R u THREATENING me ! LOL
Tim Sullivan June 02, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Be interesting to see how deep this does go. I wonder if Mr heard's $100,000 consulting gig will be an issue. During the campaign he was pleading poor poor business man. He gets elected and boom new "Consulting" gig Hummmm. Not making any accuzations mind you & I don't have any evidence either, just wondering.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew June 02, 2012 at 05:16 PM
@ Tim - You just dropped Floyd’s post count by 2 here … (Smiles) Disclaimer you did run for the seat - (kills the third post ...) Commissioner Heard’s gig may become an issue, because even though he publicly recuses himself, that also means he’s in effect recused his resident base from representation on the related development project(s).Other commisioners may or may not pick up the slack for the 4th. (GOOD Thing BTW - separating from possible future conflicts of interest - no problem with that) For most leaders, it’s a one-time property transaction or vendor purchase, but if more than that - could be....
Cynthia Montgomery June 02, 2012 at 05:39 PM
RAY< We have term limits in place, yes, yes we do! We just don;t vote them in the next time their term is up. THis time we have the ability to send a man back or give him the heave ho. The VOTING public does in deed set terms limits. What we need is a program to develop upcoming candidates for the upcoming elections. Without that current officials stay in office until an "HOT ISSUE" comes up and the dissatisfied get up in arms and vote the current holder out! I would like to see a system where people are prepared for the elections each year. Attending meetings, speak at community HOA meetings, bring new issues to the BOC meetings, write blogs about their opinions on current issues, and attend classes that will prepare them for the work of the office. They should be vetted before being able to run for office. They should have to pass a lie detector test each year in office to discourage the behavior we currently see affecting our leaders. There should be a more active office that looks for actions such as pandering for the sale of their votes. In a perfect world maybe someday but until then we have this system and however flawed it still is the best we have. Attend the "2012 YOUR VOTE COUNTS DINNER DEBATE" on June 14th at Stars and Strikes at 6pm!
Kristi Reed (Editor) June 02, 2012 at 09:16 PM
More Lasseter news: A friend has set up an account at a Duluth bank to benefit former Gwinnett County commissioner Shirley Lasseter, who pleaded guilty Thursday to accepting bribes in federal court. http://dacula.patch.com/articles/benefit-account-set-up-for-lasseter-e696e705
BroWolf June 03, 2012 at 01:14 PM
If you have ever had the opportunity to personally ask Mike Boo-dreaux about his plans for the airport expansion you have seen how he takes it personal and quickly goes on the attack by belittling you with accusations of ignorance. He has made the statement that "most people in Gwinnett want the airport expansion... I suspect that the posts against it are all from one or two people with several user names." Well, after reading the posts on this article I wonder if ol Floyd may be Sky King Boo-dreaux himself? Same snippy, rude responses to anyone against crony government.
Cynthia Montgomery June 03, 2012 at 03:04 PM
BROWOLF You now understand FLoyd. Floyd is the first to say.....ARE YOU ACCUSING SOMEBODY and YOU Are stupid!!!!! The rest of the world have come to the conclusion that people that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck. Floyd holds to "Your Stupid because your opinion is not mine so now I will have to threaten you with a threat because you threatened my guy! We are used to it. Arrogance is a strange quality in that those whom have it recognize it in everyone other than themselves. Plants are persons that hold the job to attack and confront anyone that speaks out against their man. It is effective in non republic countries because they do not have freedom of speech. We take the threats as "Fodder From Floyd." He may be a nice guy but we will never know as he is doing his job quite well. Many will not comment after being "typewiped" by Floyd, but most just understand he is doing his job and we move on to the real truth. I real man can admit his mistakes and change his mind. A little man will hold to his mistake and call all others fools!
M.K. OSBORNE June 03, 2012 at 04:45 PM
I real man can admit his mistakes and change his mind. A little man will hold to his mistake and call all others fools!...... I think its safe to say you can add Woman to this also.
Stirling Cargill June 03, 2012 at 04:48 PM
This is laughable. Whenever something appears that has to do with county commissioners the people who posts a comment are completely biased or trying to hide there real identity. It doesn't take much research to find out that Floyd Ackridge used to campaign for Mike Beaudreau, Cynthia Montgomery has been in a snit against Beaudreau for years, Kevin Osborn and R are either buddies or the same person and R is actually Mike Korom's campaign worker Rich Carithers. Take a look at the other things that have been written and if they mention a county commission person almost all the comments come from the same group of people and they always wind up calling each other names. Childish and unproductive.
M.K. OSBORNE June 03, 2012 at 04:58 PM
I like your name , we will try to up or production and get more serious that way you want have to appear and correct our childish ways . Thanks !! R i mean Kevin .
M.K. OSBORNE June 03, 2012 at 05:04 PM
sorry for the typo sir ..our should have been used when or was incorrectly used . I was so jolted by being spanked . Thanks!! Kevin i mean R .
Cynthia Montgomery June 03, 2012 at 08:04 PM
YOU are correct Kevin, 'ABOUT A SMALL PERSON NOT BEING ABLE TO CHANGE THEIR MIND", and that is why after seeing Mike at the Flying Machine I wrote (PATCH BLOG IN APRIL) about how he had indeed become a true talking, looking and sounding politician from the first time I met him so many years ago at my front door as a young man. Stirling, it is good to see that you are becoming a more common voice o the Patch, yet you should go back and reread each of us before you make comments that are untrue, I am sure you fall into the category that is someone holds an opinion they are to KEEP IT TO THEMSELVES! We don;t think that way. If we didi, we would just sit at home and complain about our community to ourselves and do NOTHING else. People on the PATCH are active, politically involved, strong minded and are proud of it! We do not see having an opinion as anything other than the ability to think and discern. I like that about the Patch People! An exchange of ideas is great until a somebody come along and says WE ARE NOT ENTITLED TO OUR OPINIONS!!! Maybe in China but not here in little old DACULA! Oh and we also allow fast fingers that make mistakes because most of us are just checking in now and again and are not taking a grammar "tist!!"
Cynthia Montgomery June 03, 2012 at 08:30 PM
WHY Kevin, after reading ur last two post, I believe you would be a lot of FUN at a party. Hope you are going to come to the Big Party on June14th at the Stars and Strikes for the "2012 YOUR VOTE COUNTS DINER DEBATE." Maybe you can seek me out and give me some of your dry humor, as we are sure to need it on that night of all nights. If u can't make it at "leest" send in a question or two!
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew June 03, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Well "there” should read "their" above BUT I'm an independent Insubordinate party… I am NOT Rich Carithers, he has his own set of challenges and doesn’t need to be associated with me. Nor me with him. I am NOT Kevin, while it seems we at times enjoy each other’s perspective and humor like we were twin “brothers from different mothers” we are NOT related nor the same person. As to the charge of being a Mike Korom campaign worker - well I’m not. He probably should NOT be burdened being linked with me either, but detractors must focus on the MESSENGER and not the message if the content hits TOO close for comfort. So as one of the lowly chickens tired of being chased by the ever increasing number of foxes, I WANT a NEW guard dog or the old one RETRAINED. Mr. Korom was the first to enter into a ring that needed some competition. He’s taken up a challenge to the THOUGHT PROCESSES that resulted in some interesting steps by Gwinnett government that NEED attention. In a nut shell, government exists to serve us – NOT we to serve it as merely a source of revenue. Recent decisions haven’t been as open or above board as they should be IMHO. We have been “bait and switched” one too many times. The courts are NOT and SHOULD not be a standard process step with each decision, costing us thousands more than necessary. As to who comments where, it seems that are more questioning boldly and NOT taking the standard lines any more.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew June 03, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Its getting crowded in here ... Shut Up! NO - let him type! Give ME the keyboard now ...
Cynthia Montgomery June 03, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Hey now! What type of a friend sets up a bank account for donations for someone who confesses to taking bribes? LOL!?!? Wow, that just makes me laugh! Does she not have any of her bribe money left? Now that is a TRUE friend or a dump friend!
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew June 03, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Yes, with only 100 chairs available we take up less space – now if each of us could have our own vote…
M.K. OSBORNE June 03, 2012 at 10:12 PM
I hope to be at that debate , me and R will need just one chair .
Kristi Reed (Editor) June 03, 2012 at 10:35 PM
Kevin/R can sit next to me at the debate if they promise to be, er I mean not to be, insubordinate. ;)
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew June 03, 2012 at 10:39 PM
I get the cold side boss...
M.K. OSBORNE June 03, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Yes Maam .............. R promises .
GregRodgers June 04, 2012 at 01:21 PM
I am late to the party on this one. I was out of town...so I had no idea but what the crap is going on??????? Why is it that more than 50% of our BOC members have gone out in disgrace? Why has it taken this long for the FEDS and law enforcement to get hip to their game? We have been SCREAMING for years that something is not right with the BOC yet time after time we have had these scammers stealing our money. The arrogance of the three who have been deported from the ranks!! (Oh my manure does not stink I can do whatever I want because I am on the mighty BOC!!) For once I agree with Cynthia....if it walks like a duck...its a freekin' duck. Floyd....find a short pier!! There is no way that your pal had no idea that the "3" were up to no good! He sat in meetings with all "3" but had no idea? Next, you will be telling is that Lasseter did not really take the money and have her Briscoe vote for sale even though she has admitted it!!! For crying out loud......vote the last bum from the old regime out!!!! Its the only way we can be sure that we have a fresh group on the BOC!!!!
Stirling Cargill June 05, 2012 at 10:44 PM
I see the comments have gone laughable to predictable. "R" Carithers has protested way too much, Kevin Osborn tried to deflect attention by joking and Cynthia attacked me because I questioned her motives. At least Cynthia is real, although a bit confused. I wasn't the one who brought up a typing mistake, that was "R". And I also never said you shouldn't express your own opinion-- that seems to be what you're saying.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew June 05, 2012 at 10:57 PM
You do your name a injustice, but believe as you will ... But when you ask "R" Carithers about my the content postings – do enjoy the quizzical responses…
Cynthia Montgomery June 06, 2012 at 12:44 AM
Cargill, I am one who believe everyone is responsible for their own opinions and should indeed express them, as in freedom of speech! But when it turns to, "He said She said!" then is gets boring. What was the original topic? What is your opinion on that topic? I am more interested on your opinion the on your opinion of my opinion. Small minds discuss people, average minds discuss topics and great minds discuss ideas. We will be discussing ideas at the "2012 YOUR VOTE COUNTS Dinner Debate in June 14th , Hope you will be there. Only 75 seats left! First come - first served!
Cynthia Montgomery June 06, 2012 at 12:45 AM
R, I am enjoying! Thanks for the quick witted comments!!!

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