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Eaves Convicted On Three Of Four Counts

May 2, 1988 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) _ A. Reginald Eaves, who rebounded from a scandal-shortened reign as Atlanta’s public safety commissioner to win a seat on the Fulton County Commission, was found guilty of extortion Monday in connection with payoffs for zoning votes.

Eaves, convicted on three of four counts, will be sentenced June 27. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine on each count.

Eaves was accused of taking payments of $20,000 and $10,000 from an undercover FBI agent posing as a developer in exchange for his vote on a north Fulton County rezoning. The commissioner said those payments were for consulting work.

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He also was accused of taking $5,000 from a Duluth developer, which he denied.

He was acquitted on a fourth count, accusing him of taking an additional $8,000 from the undercover agent. Eaves testified that money was a loan.

Eaves left the courthouse without comment after the verdict was announced. He had been suspended from office by Gov. Joe Frank Harris, pending the outcome of the case.

Another member of the commission, Chuck Williams, was indicted along with Eaves. In March, Williams pleaded guilty to one of five counts in exchange for a two-year prison sentence.

Some black leaders in Atlanta have contended that Eaves and Williams, who are black, were the victims of racist prosecution. But Fulton County Commission Chairman Michael Lomax, who also is black, said Monday he did not believe that was the case.

″We’ve had prosecutions in south Georgia recently for drugs among county commissioners who happen to be white,″ Lomax noted.

″I was stunned by the evidence (in the Eaves case),″ he said. ″The evidence suggested to me ... that Mr. Eaves had behaved inappropriately.″

Included in the evidence presented to the jury were 20 audio tapes and four videotapes secretly recorded during the FBI investigation.

On one videotape, Duluth developer Charles ″Eddie″ Wood Sr., who was cooperating with the FBI, asked Eaves, ″Will the five (thousand dollars) be enough to hold the votes in place, or do we need to do something else with somebody else?″

″Ummm, I think we’re going to be all right,″ Eaves replied.

Wood testified that he had paid Eaves thousands over several years, including the $5,000 of FBI cash.

Eaves first made his mark in Atlanta politics in 1974 as public safety commissioner under his old college fraternity brother and friend, then-Mayor Maynard Jackson. He resigned in 1978 in the wake of a city report accusing him of helping selected police officers cheat on promotion exams.

Eaves failed in a quest to be elected mayor of Atlanta, but won election to the Fulton County Commission.

The jury - nine white women, two white men and a black man - had begun its deliberations Friday.