Governor suspends Burrell Ellis, names interim DeKalb CEO - KMSP-TV

Governor suspends Burrell Ellis, names Lee May interim DeKalb CEO

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ATLANTA -

Gov. Nathan Deal has suspended Burrell Ellis and appointed Lee May to serve as interim DeKalb County CEO.

The suspension is effective immediately, Deal said. It will last indefinitely either until the court case is completely adjudicated or Ellis term is up.

The move comes after a state-appointed panel recommended suspension of Ellis on Monday. Ellis was indicted on 15 counts last month.

"This is not something that I seek," said Deal. "It is a very difficult kind of situation for everybody involved."

Prosecutors say Ellis tried to extort campaign contributions from companies and their employees. Prosecutors allege Ellis instructed the county's director of purchasing and contracting to prevent some companies from getting business because they didn't contribute to his campaign.

May is the DeKalb County Commissioner. He was sworn in less than an hour after the governor made the announcement.

"Some people are congratulating me; others are giving me condolences," May said. "I'm just honored to be in this position and, with God's strength, we're going to move this county forward."

May said he considers the CEO position to be temporary.

Jeff Dickerson, a spokesperson for Burrell Ellis, said the deposed CEO maintains his innocence and will fight the criminal charges in court.

"He respects the governor's decision. He wants to devote all of his efforts to ensuring that these spurious charges are vigorously defended, and returning to office once having done so," said Dickerson.

It's more controversy for DeKalb County; a few months ago, Gov. Deal also removed the entire school board from office.

"It is disruptive to a county, let's say that," Deal said. "Just as the school board situation was disruptive to the school system, this will be disruptive to general county government."

The suspension is with pay, Deal said.

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