Georgia DOT supervisor accused of accepting bribes

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Traffic is backed up on the Downtown Connector on Tuesday. BEN GRAY / BEN.GRAY@AJC.COM

openFederal charges were filed this week against a supervisor with the Georgia Department of Transportation, accused of soliciting bribes and allowing individuals to dump “unsuitable dirt” on DOT property.

George H. Bell’s alleged actions led to environmental damage and “enormous clean-up costs,” authorities said.

Bell, 49, of Lithonia, was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy and accepting bribes. He was arraigned Friday in United States District Court in Atlanta.

Last year, Bell began “soliciting and accepting cash payments in exchange for allowing various individuals to dump unsuitable dirt” at at least four different DOT sites, according to information released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“Unsuitable dirt is dirt that is removed during construction or landscaping projects, and cannot be used for other projects, usually because it contains organic material that would decompose and create problems for building on top of it,” authorities said in a news release.

No specific information regarding the amount of the bribes, the quantity of dirt allegedly dumped or the potential clean-up costs was provided. The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s public corruption task force, as well as the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and GDOT.

According to a company newsletter published last fall, Bell had been employed by GDOT for 15 years. He was a supervisor.

In a statement, GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry said he was “appalled” by Bell’s alleged actions.

“We will exercise all legal actions to recover costs associated with cleaning up these sites and ensure that every effort is made to correct the damage to the impacted sites once the investigation is closed,” McMurry said.

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