Private Construction Contractor Forced to “Pay to Play”
ATLANTA—A DeKalb County Department of Public Works construction inspector who extorted money from a private construction contractor today pleaded guilty to extortion in federal district court, announced Sally Quillian Yates, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. Neacacha Joyner, 40, of DeKalb County, Georgia, had previously been indicted by a federal grand jury on March 6, 2012 on charges of extortion and bribery.
“The citizens of DeKalb County could justifiably expect that Ms. Joyner would serve the public good as she carried out her duties,” United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said. “Instead, she chose to serve only her own good and in so doing, violated the law and the public’s trust.”
Brian D. Lamkin, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated, “Today’s guilty plea illustrates the need for, and positive results of, public involvement in combating public corruption. The FBI urges anyone with information on matters concerning public corruption to contact their nearest FBI office.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court: Joyner exploited her position with the DeKalb County Department of Public Works by extorting money from a private construction contractor, who was working with law enforcement as a good Samaritan confidential source. Joyner executed a “pay to play” scheme in which she compelled the contractor to pay her off in order for the contractor to complete the project, to avoid unnecessary work delays, and to gain future projects.
More specifically, in September 2010, a private construction company was awarded a federally funded contract by DeKalb County, Georgia to construct sidewalks near the intersection of S. Hairston Road and Wesley Chapel Road. The total bid for the project was more than $1.4 million. Joyner was assigned to be the DeKalb County Construction Inspector for the project.
In early April 2011, the contractor was contacted by his employees and told that Joyner would not allow them to continue working on the project. The contractor then went to the project site, where Joyner demanded to be paid off in order for construction to continue. Based on that demand, on April 29, 2011, the contractor met with Joyner in Decatur, Georgia and gave her a $2,500 bribe payment.
Again, on May 20 and 31, 2011, the contractor met with Joyner in Decatur and paid her two separate $2,000 bribe payments.
On June 8, 2011, Joyner asked the contractor for another $3,000. Joyner instructed the contractor to submit a fraudulent bill to DeKalb County for the removal and relocation of four fire hydrants (that would not actually be removed or relocated). Joyner also directed the contractor to give her the money obtained from the fraudulent billing scheme. Pursuant to Joyner’s instructions, the contractor billed DeKalb County to remove or relocate several fire hydrants that were not actually removed or relocated. On June 16, 2011, the contractor met with Joyner and paid her $3,000.
Today, Joyner pleaded guilty to the most serious of the charges—extortion. The extortion charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentence, the court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.
Sentencing has not yet been scheduled.
This case is being investigated by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey W. Davis is prosecuting the case.