I made some big mistakes,’ Says Former GA Mayor Before Going to Federal Prison – Interview: Rashad Richey Morning Show

STONECREST, Ga. — A week before the former mayor of the City of Stonecrest, Georgia, turns himself in to federal prison, Jason Lary addressed his wrongdoing in an exclusive interview with Dr. Rashad Richey on News & Talk 1380-WAOK, “The Rashad Richey Morning Show.”

Lary pleaded guilty to wire fraud, federal program theft, and conspiracy on January 5, 2022, regarding how he allocated and spent Stonecrest’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act relief funds.

Richey launched the exclusive interview Friday morning by pointedly asking, “Did you steal the money?”

“You ask the hardest question of the day, of the year,” Lary said, in part. “Did I steal from the people of Stonecrest? Did I steal from my family and my friends? In that particular thing – no. In the eyes of the government, in the eyes of the Department of Justice: I stole from the government.”

Under the CARES Act, the federal government distributed COVID-19 relief funds, including $125 million to DeKalb County – with $6 million allocated to the Stonecrest Cares Program and Small Business Program. However, the Department of Justice said the 61-year-old former Stonecrest mayor took a cut of relief funds meant for constituents.

“The allegations are this: You took the money and said, ‘I'm going to allow this entity to receive this federal money, but this entity, whatever the entity may be – a church, an organization, etc. – has to now give me money back, or kick money back, to an account that I benefit from.’ Did you do that?” Richey asked.

“Yes,” Lary said.

Lary claimed he was upfront with those who applied for the relief funds. The application included the question, “Are you willing to allocate 25% of your grant to marketing your business?”

“The ones that said, ‘No,’ still received the grant money,” Lary said. “So, it wasn't a quid-pro-quo. It wasn't a strong-arm situation.”

But the Department of Justice said hundreds of businesses applied for those relief funds, but most of the applicants were rejected. Lary helped decide where the relief funds were directed.

Richey asked about where the money Lary solicited went. The former Stonecrest mayor named different entities and organizations, including a tourism marketing organization, “Visit Us.” After Richey pressed for straightforward answers, Lary admitted he oversaw Visit Us in different capacities. According to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, “Visit Us, Inc.” has since been dissolved.

“I would like to at least share with people what I was thinking at the time and what my intentions were,” Lary said. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

“You're saying that what you did, by pocketing over $900,000, was well intended,” Richey said.

The Department of Justice said, in reality, Lary used much of the money he illegally gained for his purposes, including paying off his outstanding federal, state, and local tax liabilities. Lary also used the CARES Act relief funds to pay off the mortgage on a lakefront home, according to the Department of Justice.

“I do owe the people of Stonecrest an apology. And I'm regretful of it because most people will say, ‘Oh, you know, he's just regretful because he got caught.’ No. I’m regretful because I put another Black man in the system by my own hand.”

Lary has been sentenced to four years and nine months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. In addition, Lary will have to pay $119,607.69 in restitution. Lary says he has returned the money he took.

“Please forgive me. Give me a second chance at life,” Lary said.

Lary also took calls from the community and answered all questions posed during the interview. Richey, who is known to be an aggressive and forceful interviewer, thanked Lary for agreeing to come on the show and taking the “fire”. Richey also gave some heartfelt advice to the former mayor letting him know that there’s life after his sentence is complete and Lary would be in position to help others avoid the same pitfalls. Lary, who did note that he believed the federal government was heavy handed, agreed with Richey and plans to become an advocate for incarcerated individuals.

Listen to the sensational and transparent interview “The Rashad Richey Morning Show” on WAOK.
Dr. Rashad Richey has over 1-million followers on Facebook Watch and YouTube combined, is a university professor, Emmy-nominated television news commentator for CBS Atlanta, TV Anchor for 'Indisputable with Dr. Rashad Richey', which was named 'fastest growing tv news show in America, and Political Analyst for The People's Station V-103 FM. Dr. Richey was voted 'Best Talk Radio Personality in Atlanta' by readers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and named 'Most Trusted Voice in Atlanta' by the Atlanta Business Journal. As host of The Rashad Richey Morning Show, Dr. Richey always brings you relevant information, the best debates, and most insightful interviews in the media. Tune in every weekday morning from 7am-10am on News and Talk 1380-WAOK, V-103FM (HD3), www.WAOK.com, or on the Audacy App

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