Created: Tue, 03 Sep 2013 05:30:00 EST
Updated: Tue, 03 Sep 2013 05:45:41 EST
Two former Forsyth city councilmen pleaded guilty today to federal charges involved with soliciting and taking bribes in exchange for guaranteeing city business.
James Edward Calloway and Desi Surtane Hansford pleaded guilty in United States District Court in Macon to one count each of accepting bribes in connection with the performance of their official duties.
Each man faces a maximum sentence of up to ten years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. Calloway had been a councilman for 22 years and Hansford served for five years.
The plea agreements with the two men show:
Calloway and Hansford served on the Combined Utilities Committee of the Council, which oversees electric, water, sewer and telecommunications for the City of Forsyth.
In December last year, Calloway solicited a bribe of $20,000 from a water and waste treatment company to guarantee a city waste water contract. Company officials immediately notified the FBI and cooperated with the ensuing investigation.
The FBI found at least in part Calloway’s motive in soliciting the payment was to help Councilman Hansford rescue his home from foreclosure.
A representative of the company met with the two men in January of this year at a truck stop off I-75 in Jackson, and paid them $10,000 in currency provided by the FBI while secretly recording the meeting.
Calloway assured the company representative that the company would recover the amount of the bribe through a future project on which the company would be employed. Calloway and Hansford split the money equally.
A second $10,000 payment was delivered to Calloway a week later, after which he was immediately arrested and subsequently confessed. Calloway also admitted receiving two Falcons playoff tickets from the company, which he and Hansford shared.
Calloway cooperated with the government and paid $5000 to Hansford, who was then also arrested.
“The oath of public office is a sacred thing, and those who choose to seek public office should know that they must not betray the public’s trust," said U.S. Attorney Michael Moore. He also thanks company officials who reported this criminal activity for "choosing to put law and order over profit.”
Sentencing of the two men will take place in approximately sixty days.