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Effingham / Statesboro News

Dec. 3 – Bulloch County Grand Jury indicts Statesboro City Councilman Gary Lewis for Extortion

By Lou Phelps, Savannah Business Journal

December 3, 2015 – The federal grand jury sitting in Bulloch County returned an indictment today charging Statesboro City Councilman Gary Lavon. Lewis, 65, alleging that he attempted to extort cash from a local businessman.

Lewis’s term on the Council was set to end December 31, and had announced that he was not seeking re-election after 17 years on the council.

The indictment alleges that Lewis attempted to extort $2,500 cash "from a local businessman, in return for official acts, specifically, the passage of a local ordinance permitting drive-through alcohol sales,” about Sept. 11, 2014.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Georgia states that the charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

Statesboro office of the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney's Office worked the case over the past year.  Assistant U.S. Attorney R. Brian Tanner is the Lead Prosecutor.

Attempts to reach Lewis, a local barber, were unsuccessful.

Statesboro’s Mayor Jan Moore issued a statement calling for Lewis' immediate resignation.

"The people of Statesboro deserve honest, ethical city government, and it's the responsibility of every elected official to instill confidence in the democratic process," Moore said. "The actions alleged in this case reflect poorly on Statesboro, and as mayor, I take that personally. For the good of the city, I would encourage Mr. Lewis to resign his seat immediately."

And, she added that the City will inform Gov. Nathan Deal of the indictment.

"The governor has the power to suspend an indicted city official, but given that Mr. Lewis' term ends at the end of the month, resignation would better serve the city than removal," Moore said.

"I am confident that our justice system will give Mr. Lewis a fair hearing while also protecting the residents of Statesboro," she continued. "I am fiercely protective of this city and its reputation. Anyone and everyone involved with city government will continue to cooperate with this case as needed. To keep moving our city forward requires cooperative spirit and public trust, and together we will stand up against any breech of that trust."

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