Cleveland County Commissioner Asked To Resign Amid Controversy

Monday, March 31st 2014, 2:41 pm

Cleveland County Commissioner Rusty Sullivan stepped down as Chairman Monday, after a multi-county grand jury found he violated the law.

Another commissioner also asked for Sullivan's resignation from the board of county commissioners, but Sullivan did not resign. Darry Stacy said if Sullivan did not resign, then he requested they begin the process of removing him.

The grand jury investigated Sullivan's actions during a Noble road project involving the purchasing of several pieces of land, including his own property.

Records show Sullivan received a $19,900 payment from the county to purchase a portion of his personal property. The original offer was $1,160, but grew by more than 16 times that amount when Sullivan figured in the cost of trees, shrubs and fencing affected on his property.

Since he had estimates to back up the additional costs, the grand jury took no issue with the payment he received. They also found that Sullivan's actions did not amount to embezzlement.

Monday, Commissioner Rod Cleveland also requested Sullivan pay back the $19,900.

The grand jury reported Sullivan did violate two state laws regarding public officials and construction contracts, punishable as misdemeanor, however the statute of limitations had run out.

The grand jury found Sullivan, "did not seek Board approval for the purchase of any real property associated with the Etowah Road Project," nor did he "advise the Board regarding the $19,900 payment he received for loss and/or damages to improvements, shrubs, trees, and fencing on his parcel.