Two former Forsyth council members plead guilty to accepting bribes

hgoodridge@macon.comSeptember 3, 2013 

Two former Forsyth city councilmen pleaded guilty to corruption charges Tuesday in federal court.

James Edward Calloway and Desi Surtaine Hansford pleaded guilty to one count each of accepting bribes during the performance of their official duties.

Each man faces a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing is not expected for another two months, after federal authorities complete a background report on each man.

“The oath of public office is a sacred thing, and those who choose to seek public office should know that they must not betray the public’s trust,” U.S. Attorney Michael Moore said in a news release. “Bribes have no place in government contracting, and my office will use our resources to ensure that a few instances of corruption are not allowed to erode the public’s ability to trust the representatives they elect.”

Attempts to reach Calloway and Hansford were not successful.

Calloway, who was on the council for 22 years, and Hansford, a member for five years, both served on the city’s Utilities Committee, which oversees Forsyth’s electric, water, sewer and telecommunications services.

Calloway solicited a $20,000 bribe Dec. 27, 2012, from a water and waste treatment company to guarantee the company a city contract, according to Moore’s office.

The company notified the FBI immediately, telling the bureau about the solicitation. During their investigation, officials learned that much of Calloway’s motive was to help Hansford save his home from foreclosure.

On Jan. 18, 2013, in cooperation with the FBI, a representative of the water and waste treatment company met with the two councilmen at a truck stop off Interstate 75 in Jackson.

Investigators were recording the meeting as the informant paid the men $10,000 in cash that the bureau provided.

Calloway assured the company representative that the company would recover the amount of the payment through a future project on which the company would be employed, according to the release.

Calloway and Hansford split the money equally.

A week later, another $10,000 payment was delivered to Calloway. He was arrested immediately and subsequently confessed.

He also admitted receiving from the company two Atlanta Falcons playoff tickets, which he and Hansford shared.

Calloway cooperated with investigators and paid half of the second $10,000 payment to Hansford, who also was arrested.

To contact writer Harold Goodridge, call 744-4382.

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