DACULA -- Legal woes for John Fanning, a disgraced former county official and the son of Shirley Lasseter, deepened Friday when police charged him with beating his wife in an incident that triggered a SWAT response.
Scheduled to begin a federal prison stint soon, Fanning, 34, is being held at the Gwinnett County Jail without bond. Authorities said Fanning assaulted his wife Friday morning with a table and table leg at his Bold Springs Road home near Dacula, then fled into nearby woods.
Fanning is charged with felony aggravated assault and false imprisonment, in addition to misdemeanor charges of interfering with a 911 call and third-degree cruelty to children. The latter charge involves violence committed in front of children.
Gwinnett police and Sheriff's Department units responded to a call Friday that Fanning had hit his wife with the table and was preventing her from leaving or calling for help.
Authorities received information that Fanning had fled into a wooded area near his home and that he may have had a gun with him. Sheriff's SWAT members and police searched the woods, found Fanning hiding in brush and arrested him without further incident, said Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Mike Boyd. Fanning was not armed.
The arrest caps an eventful month for Fanning and his wife, Lesley. She was arrested Sept. 12 for allegedly trying to bring a gun and ammunition into a child-custody hearing. He was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison for conspiracy to traffic cocaine and a bribery scheme involving his mother, a former Gwinnett County Commissioner sentenced to 33 months for taking bribes.
Boyd said he had no information Friday afternoon on the extent of Lesley Fanning's injuries. John Fanning's attorney had previously said the couple are estranged and not living together.
Last month, a federal judge ordered John Fanning to report to prison within the next few weeks to serve a sentence of nearly five years. Boyd said federal authorities are aware of his arrest, but whether he'll be turned over to them soon or after he is prosecuted in Gwinnett remains to be seen.
"It's going to require some coordination between the local courts and the feds," Boyd said.
John Fanning, a former landscape business owner, was sentenced alongside Carl "Skip" Cain, 65, a Flowery Branch businessman. Federal prosecutors agreed to lighter sentences for both men after they provided inside information in an ongoing corruption probe in Gwinnett County.
Both pleaded guilty to participating in a scheme to sell Lasseter's commission vote on a proposed real estate development project, and for conspiring to traffic cocaine in a related scheme introduced by Cain.
In February 2011, Lasseter appointed Fanning to a one-year term on the county's zoning appeals board.
Within months, according to federal authorities, corruption began when Lasseter and Fanning teamed with Cain to leverage their positions for payoffs.
At last month's sentencing hearing, Fanning's attorney said his client struggles with dependency and would undergo treatment for drug and alcohol issues in prison.
A federal judge weighed the possibility of taking Fanning into custody at the hearing last month as a means to protect him from his wife.