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Stonecrest Mayor To Resign Before Federal Court Hearing On Fraud Case

STONECREST, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) -- Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary announced his plans to resign as an ongoing controversy over federal fraud charges against him continues. Lary made the announcement near the end of a 45-minute long State of the City address on Tuesday.

"As of tomorrow, which is January 5th, at 10 a.m., effective, I will resign, and have resigned, as the Mayor of the City of Stonecrest. I ask that you all measure me by the whole story. I did the best that I could do with what we had in place," he said. Lary ended his speech with a farewell for the city's residents.  "Godspeed, and again, thank you for allowing me to serve, and I love you guys."

Lary faces a federal court hearing on Wednesday, and his resignation is set to take effect one hour before the hearing gets underway. He was charged by federal authorities nearly two months ago with wire fraud, conspiracy, and theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars in COVID relief funds.

"It's difficult for anybody to fight cancer three times and have full-blown COVID," said Lary. "It's time for me to retire from politics, really get focused on my health," Lary in the speech.

Stonecrest residents like Faye Coffield say Lary's decision to step down is more than a day late and a dollar short.

"Most politicians, when they get caught doing wrongdoing, they say, 'I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to do it.' He didn't say any of that. All he did was brag on his perceived accomplishments," said Coffield. "I'm hoping that when it comes to his sentencing, that he will get the maximum and that any sentences for each charge will run consecutively."

Lary's supports see things differently.

"Without the mayor, Stonecrest would not be on the map as we are today," said Belinda Hull, a longtime resident and business owner in Stonecrest.

"He's a good man. Maybe, you know, he made a few bad choices, bad decisions, I mean, we're all human. I don't condone any wrongdoing, but we're all human, and we should have a forgiving spirit," Hull continued, adding that she does think Lary made a wise decision to step down from the mayor's office.

While Hull is optimistic about the city's future, Coffield said she does not share that same optimism.

"The best bet for Stonecrest is, first of all, for the feds to do a total forensic audit on the city, and number two, for us to go back to the county," Coffield said.

Lary previously pleaded not guilty to the federal charges, but he is expected to change his plea during the Wednesday court hearing.

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