ATLANTA – Jason Lary, the former mayor of Stonecrest, and Lania Boone, a bookkeeper for the entity that administered COVID-19 relief funds awarded to Stonecrest, have pleaded guilty to charges related to the theft of pandemic relief funds.
“Lary’s guilty plea was the first in righting the wrongs committed against the people of Stonecrest, who were wrongfully deprived of hundreds of thousands of dollars intended to provide COVID-19 relief,” said U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “Boone’s guilty plea further demonstrates our commitment to prosecuting those who seek to exploit COVID relief programs for their own gain.”
“CARES Act funds were intended to help people and businesses harmed by the pandemic, not to line the pockets of public officials entrusted to lead a community,” said Philip Wislar, Acting Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI will do everything in our power to make sure stolen funds are returned to the public, and individuals involved in this type of criminal behavior are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
According to U.S. Attorney Erskine, the charges, and other information presented in court: the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act was passed in March 2020 to respond to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the CARES Act, the federal government distributed $125 million in COVID-19 relief funds to DeKalb County. The federal government permitted DeKalb County to further disburse these relief funds to its municipalities. In July 2020, the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners voted to disburse some of the relief funds to its municipalities, including a $6.2 million grant to Stonecrest.
Stonecrest was required to spend the relief funds in accordance with the CARES Act. In general, according to the Department of the Treasury, relief funds could “only be used to cover costs that — [were] necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency . . . . and were incurred during the period that [began] on March 1, 2020,…