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Former Grovetown councilman sentenced on federal charges

Posted: September 23, 2013 - 2:40pm  |  Updated: September 24, 2013 - 11:02pm
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Former Grovetown city councilman Sonny McDowell was sentenced to 60 months probation for federal bribery charges on Monday.  File Photo
File Photo
Former Grovetown city councilman Sonny McDowell was sentenced to 60 months probation for federal bribery charges on Monday.

A former Grovetown city councilman convicted of federal bribery charges in April was sentenced Monday morning.

A federal jury convicted Leland J. “Sonny” McDowell of two counts of bribery after a three-day trial in Montgomery, Ala.

Federal Judge Mark E. Fuller sentenced McDowell to 60 months on probation and 500 hours of community service, according to U.S. Attorney Clark Morris, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office Middle Alabama District.

“It’s as good as it could have come out today,” McDowell said after the sentencing in Montgomery. “And it’s over.

“I’m coming home. ... I just get to come home and live my life as normal as I can.”

McDowell was elected to the Grovetown City Council in 2009, but resigned in April after the conviction. Lee Briggs was appointed in August to fill the remainder of McDowell’s term, which expires at the end of the year.

McDowell, who pled not guilty to the charges in June 2012, was accused of offering a kickback to a former Alabama Department of Public Safety employee in 2007.

McDowell and James E. Potts, of Montgomery, Ala., faced a four-count indictment alleging bribery related to a program receiving federal funds.

Potts pled guilty to bribery as part of a negotiated plea agreement and testified against McDowell, Morris said.

Part of Potts’ public safety job in July 2007 was helping the Alabama Department of Human Resources solicit bids for an electronic fingerprint system. At that time, McDowell owned Southern Detention Technologies, which sold fingerprint machines. He is now the owner of Grayco Detention Equipment.

McDowell said he sold the department a machine to be used for fingerprint-based background checks on people who were going to work with children, the elderly and otherwise vulnerable people.

The federal grand jury’s June indictment accused him of offering, and Potts accepting, a $1,700 check and $1 for every fingerprint scan related to the DHR, according to the statement.

McDowell faced up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each charge, Morris said.

“It’s a relief,” McDowell said. “At least the wondering what’s going to happen is over.”

McDowell closed his business, Grayco Detention Equipment at the end of May as a result of the charges, but said he’ll be looking to join the workforce again soon.

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Comments (4)


Already busy doing business behind a mask...

Looks like he is already busy back in the workforce doing business as Georgia Detention Services, LLC.

The new limited liability corporation opened it's doors May 10, 2013 under his wife's name, Reneé McDowell according to the Georgia Secretary of State website. Another business license was filed with the South Carolina Secretary of State's office on August 16th with a different name....

A quick Google search of "Georgia Detention Services" shows checks already being paid to the new LLC from Surfside Beach, SC in July and Horry County, SC in August.


SeekTheTruth only seeks partial truth...

I would ordinarily just let this kind of thing pass, but could not resist. SeektheTruth is only partially correct in his facts, incorrect in his conclusion, so I feel compelled to correct the record he created.

I am not an employee or owner of this new company and my wife is not an employee. I receive no compensation in any form and my wife receives a small stipend for keeping its books. It helps to pay her health insurance premiums. The new company was formed so that Grayco's former employees could keep their jobs and so that the loyal customers that Grayco served for over 20 years would not lose a valuable supplier. So far it has done just that and only that. We have no interest in growing the company beyond that and I don't think that many of the company's county government customers will want to do business with a convicted felon - especially one convicted of bribing a government official.

Two more things. First, I now work for an entirely different employer in an unrelated field because I have to make a living just like everybody else. Second, I am not hiding behind an anonymous pseudonym that would allow me to post half truths and innuendo. I have nothing to hide and anybody that wants to know the real facts can just give me a call. I'm in the phone book. You really don't have to rely on this sort of gossip.


While Mr. McDowell may have

While Mr. McDowell may have made a bad decision in the past, a jury of his peers found him guilty of that decision and he was sentenced by a judge for his crime. There are people who will continue to put out the untruths and attempt to cause further harm and damage to a person's character and reputation regardless of the person paying for the crime committed. Let the man live his life without casting further judgement or speculation upon him because i am sure that while you sit there casting that judgement, in all your infinite wisdom, you can feel just in throwing the first stone because you remain sinless, correct ?? Fear not what those on Earth shall say or do to you because there is only one TRUE Judge and His judgement is the only one that matters when all is said and done. God Bless and Good Afternoon.


Who's next

I bet it will probably be Dale Stoddard next. He was always a mischievous city councilman who seemed to be up to no good.