Five years after allegations of tax evasion were first brought against him, Snellville Mayor Tom Witts takes a plea to avoid jail time.
The 70-year-old entered what is called an Alford plea to 11 felony counts including tax evasion and making false statements -- meaning he is not admitting guilt, but acknowledges a jury would likely find him guilty based on the evidence.
“Quite honestly, if I had the physical condition and the financial wherewithal, I would have fought it until the end,” he tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.
Instead, Witts will serve six months house arrest and 10 years of probation. He must also repay the state $40,000 immediately in back taxes and still faces an additional $112,000 in taxes owed that he says he will fight since he had previous business losses that carried forward.
“I don’t owe that money, I never did owe it. I have all my tax returns where they were filed,” he says.
But District Attorney Danny Porter disagrees.
“He’s been trying to sort of ride that business loss claim. But the truth of the matter is, he needed to claim that six years ago and he can’t now go back and claim it,” says Porter.
Witts was indicted in September 2017 on more than 60 counts for using campaign funds for personal expenses such as a cruise, rent, and porn. He is also accused of undercutting city bids so his own company could do the work.
Porter says the sentence is appropriate since Witts is battling colon cancer and is also caring for his ailing wife.
“I think we’ve accomplished what we wanted to accomplish as far as he’s concerned, but there are going to be people who wanted to throw him under the jail,” says Porter.
Witts also agreed to immediately resign as Snellville’s mayor and never serve in political office again.
“I’m very proud of everything I did for the city Snellville. I think I left Snellville in a better place than I found it,” he says.