AJC: Johnny Edwards Article: Evangelist charged in Elaine Boyer’s kickback scheme

Evangelist charged in Elaine Boyer’s kickback scheme

Posted: 7:14 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015

By Johnny Edwards – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


A federal grand jury has indicted Rooks Boynton, an evangelist who helped Elaine Boyer fleece DeKalb County taxpayers by posing as her legislative advisor.

The indictment says he accepted more than 35 checks from then-DeKalb County Commissioner Boyer, totaling about $85,000, for consulting services he never performed. He kicked most of the money back to Boyer and her husband.

Boynton, 73, is charged with federal program theft and federal program theft conspiracy.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution raised questions about her spending on a county-issued Visa card in March 2014. The AJC continued investigating and discovered the kickback scheme involving Boynton, as did the FBI. Boyer resigned in disgrace in August 2014 and is now serving a 14-month federal prison sentence.

Boynton is the third person connected to Boyer to face charges of pilfering taxpayer money, and part of a succession of corruption scandals plaguing DeKalb government. The brazen method Boyer used to extract tens of thousands of dollars shows how mired in corruption the county had become.

From September 2009 to November 2011, Boyer used false documents to have the county cut checks to Boynton. Invoices said he researched issues such as transportation, Grady hospital and MARTA’S legislative oversight committee, MARTOC. When one check was entered into the county’s computer system, someone typed, “Lobbying & Legislative Analysis.”

Boynton was not a registered lobbyist, but a family friend and religious activist who ran unsuccessfully for DeKalb CEO three decades ago. He also ran a nonprofit, Rooks Boynton Ministries, which performed “ministerial services both locally and on foreign mission trips,” according to tax documents.

The indictment, issued Tuesday and obtained by Channel 2 Action News, cites five occasions on which Boynton deposited DeKalb County checks ranging from $1,500 to $5,000. Boynton funneled about $60,000 of the total into an account controlled by Boyer and her husband, John, the indictment says.

“Boynton kept and spent the rest of the approximately $25,000 that he received from DeKalb County,” the indictment says, “despite not performing any services for DeKalb County.”

The indictment notes that DeKalb, as a local government, receives federal funds, thus the federal program theft charges.

John Boyer, who pleaded guilty to masterminding the scheme, is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 19.

In a case not related to the kickbacks, Bob Lundsten, who was Boyer’s top aide, has been charged with using his government-issued Visa card for personal purchases. That case is being handled by the DeKalb County District Attorney.