DeKalb County employee sentenced for bribing former supervisor

Lesbia Lily Gonzalez Moreno has been sentenced for paying bribes to Gerald D. Harris — a former Supervisor in the DeKalb County Tax Commissioner’s Office — in exchange for Harris unlawfully registering vehicles.

“For months, Moreno paid bribes to illegally register vehicles without the necessary documentation,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “This corruption betrayed the trust of our citizens in government and undermined public safety.”

According to Erskine, the charges, and other information presented in court, from July 2017 to November 2019, Harris served as the Supervisor of Tax Tag Clerks for the DeKalb County Tax Commissioner’s Office. In that position, Harris oversaw the Tax Commissioner North Office’s clerks who processed motor vehicle registrations and renewals for customers.

As a supervisor, Harris generally interacted with customers only if a dispute existed between clerks and customers. Similarly, based on his supervisory role, the Motor Vehicle Division did not issue Harris a cash drawer or a credit card terminal, nor was Harris responsible for processing transactions or payments with customers. 

From at least May 2019 to November 12, 2019, Moreno repeatedly paid Harris bribe payments to unlawfully register vehicles for owners who did not present a valid Georgia driver’s license or identification card.

Under state law, a vehicle owner cannot register a vehicle or receive a license plate unless they present a valid Georgia driver’s license or identification card at the time of application. Nevertheless, in exchange for bribe payments, typically $200 per vehicle, Harris unlawfully registered and obtained license plates for owners identified by Moreno.

“When citizens like Moreno pay bribes to public officials they are part of a crime that tarnishes every government official and betrays the trust of our citizens in those officials,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Along with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, the FBI is hopeful the punishment she receives will help restore the public’s trust.”

In many cases, Moreno paid bribes to register vehicles for people who presented only foreign identification documents. During this period, Moreno paid Harris more than $20,000 in bribe payments.

“Ms. Moreno is rightfully being held accountable for her actions. It is our hope her sentence will deter others from engaging in corruption and schemes to defraud the government and betray public trust,” said. Sherry Boston, DeKalb County District Attorney.

On July 14, 2020, Harris pleaded guilty to federal program bribery and blackmail, and was sentenced to two years in prison and three years of supervised release. 

Moreno was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten to one year, one month in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, after she pleaded guilty to the charge of honest services wire fraud on June 22.