Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary, Lania Boone facing federal charges in misuse of CARES Act funding

November 11, 20216min2501
Jason Lary 22

 

 

ATLANTA—City of Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary, Sr. appeared in federal court on Wednesday (Nov. 10) along with Lania Boone of Decatur to face charges related to the alleged misappropriation of $6.2 million in CARES Act funds the city received in 2020.

Lary, 59, was charged with three counts: Wire Fraud, Conspiracy and Federal Program Theft during the first appearance hearing in Atlanta this morning before Magistrate Judge Regina Cannon.

Boone, a bookkeeper who was hired to disburse the city of Stonecrest’s relief funds, was also charged at the hearing with conspiracy to steal relief funds. Boone, 60, was accompanied at the hearing by her husband, Clarence Boone, the city’s former economic development director who was dismissed by the city after an internal investigation conducted by City Attorney Winston Denmark into Relief Funds scheme.

Attorney Dwight Thomas, who is representing Lary, said the court set signature bonds for Lary and Boone, restricted their travel to the state of Georgia, took their passports and prohibited them from having any contact with witnesses or victims as it relates to discussing the case.

The mayor was released by lunch time but declined to be interviewed.

“Their lawyers can discuss the case, but they can’t,” Thomas told On Common Ground News.

Thomas said the case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr. He said Judge Thrash would hear whether Lary pleads guilty or not guilty when the time comes and decide whether there will be a trial or sentencing.

“I do not expect that there is going be a jury trial in this case,” said Thomas. “My client is expected to be very cooperative throughout the remainder of this matter and not a distraction to the city’s government. Right now, we’re waiting for the next court date. We’ll go in at that time and hopefully, we will have finalized some sort of resolution of the case. “

Thomas said that Lary currently remains the mayor. Lary attended the virtual meeting of the Stonecrest Housing Authority on Wednesday.

Federal investigators’ 16-pagel “criminal information” document (No. 1:21-CR-437) in the “United States v. Jason Lary” focused on the three charges Lary is facing. The document  states that Lary and Boone conspired to embezzle and steal Relief Funds to pay off a $108,155.52 mortgage on a lakefront home owned by Lary and spent more than $7,000 of the Relief Funds for Boone’s child’s college expenses.

The document states that the kickback scheme included entities that Lary and others used to defraud Relief Funds recipients of more than $650,000 by directing them to give back a portion of their grant money.  The entities included Visit Us, a nonprofit to promote tourism in Stonecrest; Battle Ground Media; and Municipal Resource Partners Corporation, Inc.

The document, which some have referred to as an indictment, states that “LARY falsely represented to businesses and churches that they were required to contribute a portion of their Relief Funds to entities identified by LARY. LARY did not tell the businesses and churches that he controlled and had a financial interest in these entities.”

“…It was also part of the scheme and artifice to defraud that LARY concealed and attempted to conceal the scheme by publicly stating that no Relief Funds had been stolen, and by creating the false appearance that the entities used by LARY to execute the scheme were legitimate.”

The City of Stonecrest issued the following statement on behalf of Mayor Pro Tem George Turner and Councilmembers Jimmy Clanton, Rob Turner, Jazzmin Cobble and Tammy Grimes:

“Obviously, this is a solemn time in Stonecrest’s history, as Mayor Lary is our first Mayor. We wish him and his family the best as they face these challenges. At the same time, the City of Stonecrest is committed to maintaining integrity in government and we fully support the U.S. Attorney’s efforts to ensure that justice is carried out.

Because Stonecrest adopted a Council-Manager form of government earlier this year, the Mayor’s role is largely ceremonial. Therefore, we anticipate that this development will cause minimal disruption to city operations. We assure our residents that we will continue to serve them to the best of our abilities. We look forward to adopting our FY2022 budget and transitioning to a fully staffed city to further our focus on what is best for our residents.”

 

One comment

  • S

    November 11, 2021 at 12:37 pm

    Sad chain of events.

    If the Mayor , bookkeeper and possible others who may be associated with this mess is proven guilty, I’m hoping that this will beginning of a good future in Stonecrest.

    Ironically, I was in South Fulton with a relative of mine in yesterday. On our way to the Sandtown Publix,we passed through a beautiful subvision with an ” Vote For Bill Edwards” sign on one of the homes. Then I asked her who she voted for, she stated Mayor Edwards and went on to explain why: fighting for the people,helping South Fulton to grow more and a the Mayor people person.

    That’s my relative’s thought about him but I get why she has those positive feelings about him. The closest I “come” from South Fulton is being born in the ATL and my parents leaving Collier Heights for South DeKalb when I was a year old..lol,but appearance wise it seems like the place to be. A part of probably would have voted for him as well.

    Stonecrest should also be ” the place to be” but it won’t be as long as Mayor Lary continue to get in trouble and no organization exists in city hall.

    Some people question the difference between South Fulton and Stonecrest? The difference being is that SF is stabilized and in spite of possible infighting within their city government, their problems haven’t got to the point where people don’t want to move there or positive development coming there.

    With Stonecrest, infighting is effecting growth for the city while the business the Mayor supports can harm the people and/or business that doesn’t go right ( eg residential vs industrial) with the community.

    South DeKalb Mall is also on the auction block.It began to go down before that. Other than going on Flat Shoals Parkway and Stonecrest,there is nowhere else to shop in the area. If the problems continue to plague in Stonecrest/ South DeKalb will be a cesspool of Metro Atlanta.

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