DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis assembled a team of criminal defense lawyers Thursday who attacked prosecutors for deceiving him and abusing the grand jury process.
Ellis hasn't been charged with any crime, but he said he hired legal representations because he questions the motives of the DeKalb County district attorney's office.
Ellis, a former partner at EpsteinBeckerGreen, is being represented by former federal prosecutor Craig Gillen, former DeKalb District Attorney J. Tom Morgan and former DeKalb Chief Assistant District Attorney John Petrey.
"We can tell when an investigation is being done correctly and when it's not being done correctly," Gillen said at a news conference. "He has dealt in good faith with the grand jury and with the district attorney's office. Sadly we must conclude that might not be the case in how they have dealt with him."
Morgan said the district attorney's office lied to Ellis, and documents obtained through the search warrants could have been obtained with a subpoena rather than putting on "a show for the media."
Investigators executed search warrants at Ellis' home and office Jan. 7 while he was appearing before a special grand jury investigating the county's watershed management department. Ellis was told the purpose was to explain the implementation of the capital improvement plan, but that wasn't the real reason he was called to testify, Gillen said.
The DA's office alerted the media to set up at Ellis' house before the warrants were executed, and office members violated witnesses' First Amendment rights by telling them not to talk about their grand jury testimony, Gillen said.
The district attorney's office didn't have any response, said Erik Burton, spokesman for District Attorney Robert James Jr.
Ellis said he has cooperated with the district attorney's office up until now. "I want to say emphatically that I have done nothing wrong," Ellis said.