Another Democrat was caught stealing our money…this makes me think that maybe these Democrats are corrupt by nature.

Yes, you read the headline correctly, a former Democrat mayor from Georgia was sentenced to nearly five years in prison on Wednesday for masterminding a scheme to steal nearly $925,000 of the $6.2 million in COVID-19 relief funds that his city was tasked with handing out.

U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash sentenced Stonecrest ex-mayor Jason Lary to 57 months in federal prison and ordered him to pay nearly $120,000 in restitution.

60-year-old Lary pleaded guilty in January to wire fraud, federal program theft, and conspiracy to commit federal program theft. He was the first mayor in Stonecrest, a 59,000-resident city in southeastern DeKalb County that was incorporated in 2017.

Here’s what Judge  Thrash said during sentencing:

“What he did was deplorable. Absolutely deplorable. At the time of the greatest medical and economic catastrophe in generations, Mr. Lary, instead of being the honest and respectable mayor that he was elected to be … used that as an opportunity to steal.”

WSB Radio reports that Lary used COVID relief money to pay off his personal debts, and he gave grants to churches and small businesses with the stipulation that they would give some of the funds back to companies connected to him. For example, he gave his church $150,000 and asked the church to give $50,000 of it to one of his companies.

Here’s what U.S. Attorney Ryan Buchanan said:

“Lary betrayed the trust placed in him by the citizens of Stonecrest by stealing the very funds meant to help his constituents weather the COVID-19 pandemic. The people of Stonecrest deserved better, and corrupt officials can expect severe consequences for using their offices to commit crimes.”

Lary will report to prison in early December so that he can continue being treated for prostate cancer and lymphedema.

More details of this report from The New York Times:

In July 2020, DeKalb County authorized a grant of $6.2 million to Stonecrest, a city of fewer than 60,000 people, for public health expenses and support for small businesses. Mr. Lary, 60, who had been mayor since 2016, routed relief funds through a private company he formed, the authorities said.

The company’s bookkeeper, Lania Boone, transferred about $108,000 to a mortgage servicing company, which both Mr. Lary and Ms. Boone knew was a tactic for him to pay off the mortgage, according to the authorities. Mr. Lary also directed about $7,600 to be used by Ms. Boone’s son for his college meal plan, tuition, and rent, according to the indictment in his case.

Lania Boone pleaded guilty to conspiracy in February, and she is scheduled to be sentenced in August. A lawyer for Ms. Boone did not immediately reply to a request for comment about Mr. Lary’s sentencing on Wednesday night.

Mr. Lary used other companies he controlled as fronts to defraud beneficiaries of government funds, directing small businesses and churches to give hundreds of thousands of dollars to his companies without admitting his involvement in them, the Justice Department said. The authorities added that he used that money to pay for outstanding tax liabilities and political advertising.

In the fall of 2021, the authorities said, they seized about $480,000 from two of the companies, Visit Us and Battleground Media. Mr. Lary resigned as mayor in January.

Keri Farley, the special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Atlanta, said in a statement:

“It is extremely disheartening when an elected official, someone sworn to protect the community they serve, violates that oath by stealing relief funds intended to aid their community.”

“This sentencing holds Lary accountable for abusing his position of trust and blatant disrespect for the law.”

Some Stonecrest residents said they thought the punishment should have been more severe:

“I don’t think he got enough time. I really don’t, because other people who did this as individuals for themselves, they got more time,” said Stonecrest resident Faye Coffield.

“We don’t know how many of those people lost their businesses or face hardship because of what he did,” Coffield added.

“Until you apologize, you haven’t taken responsibility, and we want this to be a message to everyone who lives in Stonecrest. Don’t bring it here,” another resident said.

Sources: Conservativebrief, The New York Times, WSB Radio

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