Kenerly's camp vows innocence at hearing to toss charges

Kevin Kenerly

Kevin Kenerly

LAWRENCEVILLE — A Friday motions hearing in the bribery case of former Gwinnett County Commissioner Kevin Kenerly revealed that prosecutors have granted immunity to the developer who allegedly slipped Kenerly $1 million. It’s a move prosecutors call necessary, and one the defense says has all but exonerated the embattled government leader.

In a hearing before Superior Court Judge Karen Beyers, Kenerly’s defense attorney, Pat McDonough, argued that a second indictment against his client should be quashed because it overlapped with a previous indictment tossed out by an appeals court — and because the statute of limitations on bribery and other charges has already lapsed.

Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter argued the second indictment, brought in August 2011 by a regularly empaneled grand jury, never put Kenerly in danger of double-jeopardy, or “facing a two-front war” in Gwinnett Superior Court and the appeals courts.

The first indictment, brought by a special purpose grand jury that Porter assembled to investigate land deals, was void before the second was brought, Porter argued.

As for the statute of limitations, Porter believes the four-year requirement to prosecute for bribery and two misdemeanors that Kenerly faces should have begun only when prosecutors received copies of developer David G. Jenkins’ business records in February 2010. Porter believes those records prove that criminal land deals transpired.

McDonough counters that the four-year limitation should have begun in May 2007 at the latest — making the more recent indictment void — when the county purchased land for an expansion to Rabbit Hill Park in Dacula. Prosecutors allege Kenerly was paid 20 installments of $50,000, totaling $1 million, for his vote on that matter.

Beyond that, McDonough argued that Porter should have launched an investigation into Kenerly and Jenkins’s dealings in 2006, when a DVD was widely circulated that showed the two gambling together in Las Vegas. Porter’s knowledge of potential wrongdoing then should have started the “clock” on the statute of limitations, McDonough said.

Porter said no evidence of criminal wrongdoing was found at that time. All dates besides Feb. 4, 2010 — when Jenkins’s business records were turned over to prosecutors — are irrelevant, Porter said.

“It’s not against the law to go to Las Vegas and sit next to Jenkins and play cards,” he told the judge. “It is illegal to accept $1 million in exchange for your official actions.”

In order to secure those documents, Jenkins was granted immunity that February in return for his cooperation and testimony regarding his business dealings with Kenerly, Porter said after the hearing.

That cooperation thus far has been a boon for Kenerly’s defense, McDonough told the Daily Post, because court paperwork that outlines transactions involving Jenkins and Kenerly makes no mention of bribery, calling the $1 million legitimate and related to another deal.

“If (Jenkins) said he bribed Kenerly, he is protected by immunity,” McDonough said. “That’s not what he said — he said he never bribed Kenerly.”

Porter said he doesn’t believe everything that Jenkins has told prosecutors, noting that Jenkins could be prosecuted if he violates his immunity agreement.

Jenkins, a residential land developer and home builder in Gwinnett, owned Winmark homes.

After 16 years, Kenerly resigned as Gwinnett’s longest-serving commissioner in 2010, when he was first indicted on bribery charges. He also faces two misdemeanor counts of failure to disclose a financial interest in two zoning cases dealing with the same developer.

Kenerly made his career in residential real estate, which was ravaged by housing and financial crises in recent years. He filed for bankruptcy protection last year, citing less than $50,000 in assets and $3.5 million in debt. That case was dismissed at his request last month.

McDonough argues that the $1 million that provides the basis for the re-indicted bribery charge did not involve the Dacula park, but a townhome development called Silver Oaks in Lilburn. In a commission vote on that development, “everyone concedes Kenerly followed the law by filing his letter stating he had a financial interest, walked out of the board vote and did not vote,” the attorney said.

After the hearing, Kenerly expressed relief that the arrangement between Jenkins and prosecutors was made public. He reiterated that the Las Vegas trip was merely a gathering of friends, saying he paid the group’s $20,000 tab at Ceasars Palace. He pointed to the absence of bribery allegations by Jenkins.

“That’s what confuses me — I’m trying to figure out who (prosecutors believe) bribed me,” Kenerly said.

The judge will consider arguments about the motions filed by the defense and make a decision later. If the second indictment is quashed, state law would prevent Kenerly’s prosecution.

Otherwise, Porter says, he hopes to try the case early next year.


R 2 years, 11 months ago

Either way, this should get interesting…

Somebody’s career will take a hit.


NewsReader 2 years, 11 months ago

LOL. I don't know that a career taking a hit is such a bad thing and in fact would be a badge of honor if your career is that of a criminal. If Kenerly is indeed innocent, then why must his attorneys engage in all the legal maneuvering to try and have his case dismissed on a technicality instead of the merits of the case? I think we all know the answer to that.


kevin 2 years, 11 months ago

The title of this article should have been:Kenerly's camp vows "maneuvering" at hearing to toss charges. Even the defense lawyer admits to some shady things were going on but the only defense is to find fault with the process. Tell me how a politician can steal money from deals and the taxpayer gets no justice? Just study this case for an answer. I hope Porter hasn't done anything stupid to give a reason for the judge to kill this case. If so, he is negligent in his job and should be tried or thrown out as well since he screwed up our justice. Porter better hope for his life that he didn't screw this up, either on purpose or not. Remember, politicians make for strange bedfellows! In our justice system, people are always being given immunity to speak out against someone. This is nothing new in our justice system. Since this hurts Kenerly, his attorney yells foul ball! He better, since Kenerly is probably paying him big bucks to win this case. Does a normal person think that picking up a $20,000 gambling tab is without strings attached? Give me a break. This Kenerly is getting way too much time out of jail instead of in jail. He should be found guilty and lose his real estate license and his gigantic home. You have to wonder how he paid for such a giant size home for starters. I like the way this picture portrays him, with a big pride smile on his face. I hope we get rid of this trash in Gwinnett county and they all lose all their credibility for good. That goes for Mr. Bannister as well.


Coolray 2 years, 11 months ago

Every member of the commision at the time of this and several other land deals should be in jail. Please explain how in the middle of one of the worst real estate markets ever the county and the school board could be paying twice the real value for land? I'll tell you how. All of them were in bed with the developers and speculators. Some disguised them as "campaign contributions." No matter, it quacks like a duck and it has feathers!

Try this in the private sector and you end up fired and in jail. Try this in politics and you end up chairman of the Senate Rules committee or the Chairman of the BOC


kevin 2 years, 11 months ago

But yet again, the voters put in another spending politician for District One. Same old , same old problem. They wouldn't vote for the CPA.


wrighton 2 years, 11 months ago

2006 video and DA finds no wrong doing? DA states anything prior to 2010 is irrelevant? Attorneys going back to 2006 and DA stating 2011. WTH. If I read this correctly, there is a four year window to bring charges against politicians. Who set this window? Incredible. Residents lose big.

Has the DA started investigating Commissioner Beaudreau with his tax paid ballgames, Christmas parties, funerals, copier deals, etc .... Four year clock has started. An outside agency needs to look into all these allegations including prior to 2010 with all commissioners. Forget DA. Gwinnett is not capable. There needs to be a Federal auditing of this county and municipalities.


kevin 2 years, 11 months ago

Our DA is probably getting paid off to look the other way also. People need to stop re-electing politicians and lawyers and put in a citizen that is not connected with the development community. Just look at them all. They are either reals estate brokers, civil engineering, or building construction. What a bunch to be leading us.


LilburnGwinnett 2 years, 11 months ago

"A Friday motions hearing in the bribery case of former Gwinnett County Commissioner Kevin Kenerly revealed that prosecutors have granted immunity to the developer who allegedly slipped Kenerly $1 million." Red flag right there.


Gundoctor1 2 years, 11 months ago

What's a paltry million here and a million there? The prisons are absolutely overflowing with guilty politicians already. Kennerly for president!!!!!!!!! Guess I could write his name in.


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