Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bob Lundsten Indicted In DeKalb: A Fall From Grace

A DeKalb County grand jury indicted Bob Lundsten last month on nine charges of theft and making false statements, accusing him of using his government-issued purchasing card for buying things for personal use, and then lying about it. Lundsten was arrested Thursday and is out on a $15,000 bond.
Lundsten, former chief of staff to disgraced DeKalb Commissioner Elaine Boyer and a long-time player in Dunwoody politics, is not the sort of man who shies from a fight, whether fighting the extension of the DeKalb municipal airport’s runway extension almost 30 years ago or calling an ethics board member a lying son of a bitch at a hearing last month.

So I can’t say right now if he’s going to fight the criminal charges or cut a deal. Lundsten did not return a request for comment and has gone dark on social media. What I can say is that the charges puncture and punctuate a long career in the public eye. They’re probably a period, and perhaps an exclamation point.

“If you are someone entrusted with public funds and you misspend them, and steal, it carries a penalty of up to 15 years per count,” the district attorney, Robert James, told 11 Alive.
James did him a favor when he charged him.  

Or, perhaps the U.S. Attorney did. Lundsten’s charges of theft using a P-Card are the same that Boyer pleaded guilty to in federal court. Never mind that she also stole about $80,000 using fake invoices to a shill vendor. P-Card abuse by a government official can be charged as a federal crime.
Either the feds didn’t want him or the district attorney wanted him more. Probably the former. Boyer got off relatively light in federal court because she had gifts to give a federal prosecutor – state’s evidence against other criminals. The FBI has been collecting cooperating witnesses Pokemon-style for months now. (Patrick Jackson, I choose you!) While Lundsten has been around for a very, very long time, he may not know enough dirt to aid any of the many federal investigations swirling around the county.

Nothing to offer means nothing to bargain with. And federal sentencing guidelines means doing most of a 20 year term. Were I to have to choose to face a federal jury in Atlanta or one of DeKalb County’s mercurial juries, I’d take DeKalb.

It’s worth noting that commissioners Sharon Barnes-Sutton, Stan Watson and others had equally-questionable spending on their P-cards. Barnes-Sutton has more than $60,000 in expenditures without receipts, while Watson put his campaign website on the county dime – an unambiguous no-no. Every single commissioner had at least some unaccounted-for P-Card spending last year.

Nonetheless, it’s a stunning moment – at least as stunning as Boyer’s crimes. Lundsten is a marketing executive and fundraiser with a long history of philanthropic endeavors and community activism around Dunwoody. He was an early member of the Dunwoody Homeowners Assocation, predating the city’s incorporation. He raised money to get defibrilators into Dunwoody police cars, and has worked closely with the refugee community in Clarkston – much to the disgust of anti-immigration activists including Tom Owens and Joe Newton.

In a previous interview, describing his reaction to ethics charges related to the spending, Lundsten told Jodie Fleischer at WSB “to have my integrity challenged, it was disheartening and upsetting.” He said the policies were never fully explained to him, and had worked with interim CEO Lee May to craft new policies for P-Card use.

This is not to excuse criminality, of course. If administrators at Georgia Tech can catch a 10-year sentence for P-Card abuse, one would expect Lundsten to serve jail time if convicted.
But it speaks to the damage the county is taking. More than one person has told me that Lundsten would have been the natural heir to Boyer’s commission seat, had Boyer not gone down the way she did … and had he been untainted. We’re running out of leaders.


Anonymous said...

$60,000 in unknown spending for Barnes-Sutton on her P-Card, haaaaaaa, the F.B.I might call this a clue but I am buying stock in chicken wings!!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow - $150 versus $90,000. Aren't there any Detectives working at DeKalb County Police Department? GBI even passed up on this. It wasn't that long ago when George Chidi was Public Enemy #1 on this site. Need to change your blog name to "Troll Central".

Anonymous said...

Check Andrew Baker and his assistant spending on the P-card.

Anonymous said...

The last real leader Dekalb Co had was Manuel Maloof. He, like all of us' was not perfect, but he could make a damn decision and commander respect.

Anonymous said...

DeKalb is not "running out of leaders" as you said.....They haven't had any real leaders (who weren't criminals) since before Liane Levitan. How long has that been now, TWO DECADES?
The problem with Dekalb isn't lack of leadership, its lack of GOOD leadership. Fools elect fools to represent them.
The crooks took over and everyone is ignoring the elephant in the room.

Sgt Friendly (Ret)

Anonymous said...

What about the poor leadership at the departmen???t ... The department about which this blog is centered.

Harry Johnson said...

I can only say that the citizens are the biggest idiots, they keep re-electing the BOC.

Blame yourselves citizens!!!

Anonymous said...

Looks like the interim CEO is next according to Channel 2.


Anonymous said...

When will the FED's get Vernon? He was the most corrupt of all. Ask Jodi about the land deal that was going to be exposed on WSB years ago. Jones attorney used the race card so that they would not air the corruption scandal. No justice until Vernon goes down. He is the king fish!

Anonymous said...

The whole county is made up with nothing but crooks.

Black, white, yellow, green and pink, they are all crooks.

Let the feds and Robert James have some fun and indict everyone and let fun begin. The taxpayers of this county are going to pay for bullshit until hell freezes over.

Get the prison cells ready Man, for it is time for bread and water and npo more P-Cards.

Anonymous said...

Just another crook in the line of many in this glorious county that was many years ago the highlight of the state with excellent schools, top flight government and well controlled zoning.

Look at today. One monumental piece of shit..........Say no more

Anonymous said...

Forget P-card abuse and write about employees taking money from customers who acquire services from dekalb county government. The business license and zoning departments.

Anonymous said...

Cedric the Entertainer now in Baltimore. Why is he on the DeKalb County payroll?

Anonymous said...

Blah, blah, blah. We've been hearing this stuff for years!! Nothing ever happens. I believe that the FBI always does thorough and superior investigations. WSB has done very thorough investigations. There sure is a lot of smoke. Still nothing. Must not be in the cards to try a democrat. The only politician sentenced in Federal court was a Republican.