A plea hearing has been scheduled for Gwinnett businessman Mark Gary on corruption charges at 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 1, before U.S. District Judge Charles Pannell Jr. in Courtroom 2307 of the Richard B. Russell Federal Building in Atlanta.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta charged Gary with bribing former Gwinnett County Commissioner Shirley Lasseter to obtain commission approval in 2009 of a controversial $4 million waste transfer station in which he had a personal stake. Gary was implicated in an investigation of corruption in Gwinnett County government.
After Lasseter voted in favor of the permit for the project, Gary allegedly gave her son John Fanning a bribe consisting of $30,000 worth of chips at an out-of-state casino. Fanning reportedly later shared the money with Lasseter. Although the Gwinnett County Commission approved the project, it was never built.
A Duluth resident, Gary, 39, was arraigned Sept. 5 before U.S. Magistrate Court Judge Justin Anand on the federal bribery charge, waived indictment, and was released on bond. Because he waived indictment, Gary is expected to plead guilty at the hearing next week. If so, Judge Parnell would set a date for Gary's sentencing hearing.
Gary faces a possible maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. In determining his sentence, the court will consider federal sentencing guidelines that provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenses.
Lasseter, 64, of Duluth was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison without parole by Judge Pannell in the same courtroom Sept. 5 for accepting bribes. She had pleaded guilty May 31 to accepting $36,500 in bribes during 2011 from an FBI agent posing as a South Florida real estate developer to support a proposed development in her district. Lasseter, who represented Duluth, Suwanee and Sugar Hill, resigned from her District 1 commission seat. She was not charged in the Gary case.
Fanning, 34, of Dacula was sentenced to 57 months in prison without parole Sept. 18 for bribery and drug trafficking. Carl “Skip" Cain, 66, of Flowery Branch also received a sentence of 57 months without parole Sept. 18 on the same charges. Fanning and Cain had pleaded guilty May 31 to participating in the scheme to sell Lasseter’s vote and to trafficking drugs.
Cain acted as a “bagman” for Lasseter and Fanning, arranging the bribes and setting up meetings where the payments were exchanged. Fanning and Cain each laundered $10,000 in purported drug money and also acted as drug couriers for fake cocaine in a FBI sting operation. They believed the cocaine was real.
Lasseter, Fanning and Cain’s sentences were reduced because they pleaded guilty and cooperated with the ongoing corruption investigation. They remain out on bond until they voluntarily report to their assigned prisons in a few weeks.