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UPDATE: Lasseter Pleads Guilty To Accepting Bribe

Former Duluth mayor has resigned as Gwinnett commissioner. Her son, a former Gwinnett zoning official, pleaded guilty to bribery and drug trafficking charges.

 Updated June 1

Shirley Lasseter, whose Gwinnett Board of Commissioners District 1 included Suwanee and Duluth, has pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe, federal authorities confirmed Thursday.

Lasseter's sentencing is set for Aug. 6, and she faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine up to a $250,000, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Atlanta.

The Duluth resident resigned her Gwinnett office Thursday. She accepted $36,500 in bribes from an undercover FBI agent posing as a South Florida real estate developer, authorities said. The bribe concerned her support for a proposed development on Boggs Road.

Lasseter is the third Gwinnett commissioner in less than two years to resign from office amid accusations of wrongdoing. Charles Bannister and Kevin Kenerly resigned in 2010 in the wake of a grand jury investigation of dubious land deals.

Lasseter, a former mayor of Duluth, said earlier this year that she would not seek re-election to the Board of Commissioners.

Also implicated in the bribery scheme were Lasseter's son, John Fanning, and businessman Carl "Skip" Cain of Flowery Branch. Fanning and Cain pleaded guilty to participating in the bribery scheme and to drug trafficking.

During this time, Lasseter's son, John Fanning, was an appointed member of the Gwinnett Zoning Board of Appeals -- appointed by his mother. The appointment came when the Gwinnett commission had no chairman -- Charles Bannister resigned in October 2010, and Charlotte Nash took office in March 2012

All three have been released on $10,000 signature bonds.

Lasseter sold [the influence of] her office and “betrayed the citizens who voted for her,” said U.S. Attorney Sally Yates during a press conference announcing the guilty pleas Thursday at the Richard Russell Building in Atlanta. “Today’s guilty pleas are part of an ongoing effort to root out public corruption in Gwinnett County,” she said.

In September, the federal complaint said, Fanning and Cain flew to the New York area to assist in collecting what they thought would be a multiple-kilogram shipment of cocaine. They spent the night in New York and flew back with "four kilograms of purported cocaine," and Fanning and Cain each took possession of two kilograms of the substance so they could deliver it to a prospective buyer, the complaint said.

Fanning and Cain also face 10 years each in prison and fines of up to $250,000 after pleading guilty to the bribery charge. They face mandatory terms of five years each based on their guilty plea for drug trafficking.


 

Allison Rodgers May 31, 2012 at 07:35 PM
I'm glad she's not the Mayor for the City of Duluth anymore. Good grief! This is horrible.
Dusty Graham May 31, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Maybe it would be a good time to remove the homage to Shirley that is installed in front of the Living Honorarium.
Duluth2 May 31, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Wow, just wow. And one has to wonder who else is going to be caught out; ajc article indicates that these 3 are cooperating in other ongoing investigations.
Meredith May 31, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Sad to hear this. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds. I find it hard to believe this is a first time offense when she/they were trying to get 35K.
Jane Doe May 31, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Honestly Hoyt? You are going to make this a party thing?
Duluth2 May 31, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Thanks for removing your comments Hoyt. This is a non-partisan crying shame for our county, and for the City of Duluth as well.
Joseph Nieves May 31, 2012 at 10:54 PM
How sad it made me feel! I truly believed in Sherley and helped her during her sting in Duluth as Mayor. I am very disappointed, just can't believe she would do the things I read!!
Carey Fisher May 31, 2012 at 10:54 PM
I feel betrayed. I thought for sure the County Commission was cleaning up it's act.
Boboma johnson June 01, 2012 at 12:42 AM
You judgemental pricks don't know these people or what they have done for the community for decades. Times are tough and their family has gone through the mill. Politicians,police officers, and other civil workers have been doing things like this for years so wait until the whole story comes out before you make judgement calls. How many of you bloggers have even been in a position of power or were even capable to making to a position like that? Watch your mouth chumps
Steve Burns (Editor) June 01, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Folks, we like comments, but please keep them to a respectable tone. I'd like to remind everyone of our terms of use. Comments with inappropriate language will be deleted. http://suwanee.patch.com/terms
Tom Wood June 01, 2012 at 10:15 AM
I always thought that Shirley was the consummate 'politician', (not a compliment) from her early days in Duluth politics, but would have never suspected this turn of events. When I look around, from the local level to the national scene, I can't help but wonder if there are any honest people left in politics, or is everyone just working his/her own hustle?
Gail Lane June 01, 2012 at 12:13 PM
I am shocked like everyone else. But as for lumping all of our representatives into a dishonest heap, I see so many great things about Gwinnett that I truly believe there are those that still serve. We have the best school system in the country, an award winning park system and even in this tough economic climate, Gwinnett is favorable to small business as well as large.
Thor Johnson June 01, 2012 at 12:59 PM
“Beware of those leaders who bend the truth in their quest for popularity and power!” quote by Melvin J. Everson... I knew this quote would come in handy... Boboma, your willingness to be Soft on this issue is incredible. One of the standards that separate successful societies and those that are not is expecting honesty from leaders. After all that’s what they tell us they are, right? When we discover the dishonest it is our obligation to pursue their demise. If we choose to ignore we will be ruled by institutionalized corruption... read... Mexico, Eastern European countries, etc.
DavidE June 01, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Learjet45, I would take a Dusty "Knucklehead" Graham over any of the arrogant and ignorant that we have been electing recently. It is obvious you have never had to deal with the City of Duluth trying to protect your rights as a taxpayer and citizen. Also, your comments would have more credibility if you used your real name and didn't hide behind your username. We should investigate all deals in Duluth during her time as mayor, even though she could only vote as a tie breaker. She could still influence the rest of the council and department heads and the city manager.
Delilah Smith June 01, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Wow, what a sorry state our political environment has become with bribery and just lack of concern for the common good of the citizens who elect the officials. All we hear about is the crooked politicians and what they are doing these days. We really need to overhaul our political system if "We the people" really want change in this country.
Bob Andrews June 02, 2012 at 05:43 AM
I heard that Shirley was dealing with severe financial hardships, just after losing her home to foreclosure, she was barely able to put food on the table, must have tons of personal debts piled up. I heard once she was stranded on the highway, ran out of gas, when it was determined her fuel gauge was broken, she could not get enough money to fix it. Still no excuse for taking a bribe but she was dealing with extreme financial hardship so at least don't label her as a greedy thief, call her a thief alone instead. Shirley put in a life of service for the city of Duluth and the county so I hope we can remember that sacrifice when we judge her for a lapse of clear judgement. Considering her age and health, 10 years in prison might be a death sentence for her.
Stacie Stamper June 02, 2012 at 12:00 PM
We should let the story come out and hold judgment until all the facts are known. Regardless of the reasons why Shirley took the bribe, it doesn't change the fact she did wrong. What it does do is offer understanding that warrants compassion. Shirley is a good person who made a very bad decision. It is devastating to think all of her years of service and the good she has done is now tarnished. Bob Andrews: I fear you are right, 10 years in prison would be a death sentence for Shirley. What a horrible and sad situation. learjet45: Take your jet and fly somewhere far away. The knucklehead comment was uncalled for. Dusty may rub people the wrong way in how he gets things done but HE GETS THINGS DONE and does so with integrity and the best interest of the community in mind. If you are going to attack someone in a public forum, man up and reveal yourself. Otherwise if you can't say something nice, please don't say anything at all.
Courtney June 02, 2012 at 02:16 PM
You do the Crime; then do the time. She deserves at least 10 years.
Moonpie June 03, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Ah times are tough... so our leaders should take drug money to supplement income by taking bribes in conjunction/direct connection with known drug leaders (undercover FBI agent) for the sale of county land. Boboma... being naive to the fact does not excuse ignorance... she plead GUILTY. She did it... those are the facts... she betrayed our trust and her office. Dude... wake-up!
Moonpie June 04, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Gail... I do appreciate your optimism. However, are you not aware of the financial ruin that our country is in? You do recognize that many "questionable" deals for county land have been passed through the current county representatives. As for having a superior school system... that has nothing to do with county board and everything to do with hardworking educators (who I will add have NOT had a raise in three years). As for the park system... I would rather see the money applied to feeding the hungry of Gwinnett... instead of giving them a park bench to sleep on. Please understand my tone... this is not being rude but rather informing you that this issue is a lot deeper and more corrupt than people are giving it credit.
Gail Lane June 04, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Moonpie - I am often considered an eternal optimist, but I am also realistic. I moved to Gwinnett in 1996 because it was a good place to race my family, build my business, and create a home. I hold Ms. Lasseter wholly and individually responsible for her actions; not the County Commission as a whole. There are honest people left in politics, they sometimes make the headlines in news sources, but they rarely get this kind of vehement commentary. I don't "see" your tone as rude, but I understand the weary attitude that tends to point us towards pessimism and distrust. I refuse to draw conclusions with such a broad brush. Maybe that's that "glass half full" attitude.
Moonpie June 04, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Gail... With your half full glass and my half empty glass... our bottle is completely drained :(. Now we have to go to the store and buy another bottle :). You are correct to say that Mrs. Lasseter is singularly responsible for this individual action...not the entire board. However, in the last 5 years the current members have not been saints either (and actually way before that too). I believe as a whole... Gwinnett is tired of the corruption, misrepresentation, and abuse of at least 3 of our appointed leaders. I look forward to reading your optimistic views on future posts. Thank you for your interest in our county... we need you :)

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