Published on: Wednesday, February 15, 2023

A former commissioner of a county that includes part of Atlanta was sentenced to three years' probation and nine months of home detention on Tuesday, three months after a jury found her guilty of demanding money from a subcontractor on a $10 million wastewater treatment plant expansion project (articel available here). 

Shortly before she was sentenced on Tuesday, former DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton, 63, broke into tears and apologized for her actions and for any harm she may have done to her family, constituents and the community. 

"I am deeply sorry for the decisions I made and that I brought any harm or hurt to anyone. I am so ashamed to be here in court. I never imagined in my entire life that I would be involved in a criminal trial," Sutton said. "I just want to say I'm sorry."

In addition to her probation and home detention, the court said Sutton — who was a DeKalb County commissioner from 2008 to 2016 and was indicted in 2019 for conduct five years prior — will have to pay a $200 fee and a $3,000 fine.

The federal government had asked the judge to sentence Sutton to a term of 27 months in prison.

The court said he agreed that Sutton's actions were "very serious," "illegal" and carried out for "no reason other than greed," but he declined to hand down the hefty sentence the federal government requested. DeKalb County was "full of corruption" in the 2010s, the judge said, adding that Sutton was not the "poster child" for misbehavior and that the full impact of corruption could not be laid at her feet.

"I have to be fair," the judge said, adding that he believed Sutton would be "sufficiently punished" by the sentence he handed down Tuesday and that prison time felt "unwarranted."