By Kathy Jefcoats
An announced Morrow mayoral candidate, who was recently kicked off the city council, posted $80,000 bond about four hours after his arrest early Saturday morning on a 16-count, felony indictment.
The indictment filed against John James Lampl, II, last Friday, alleges
that the 46-year-old public official acted outside state law in developing Olde Towne Morrow, while he was city manager.
The indictments cover the years 2006 through 2010 and assert that the allegations were not known until July 20 of this year.
Lampl could not be reached for comment Monday.
Lampl has a long history with the City of Morrow, having served on the council 20 years ago, working as city manager and then executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, before being elected to the city council again in a March 2010 special election.
During recent public meetings, Lampl defended the Olde Towne project, and defiantly told council in April: "I'd do it again in a heartbeat."
Three months after his 2010 election, Lampl faced allegations of intimidation of a city employee, and was removed from council last month. He announced in late May his intention to seek the office of mayor. All that may take a back seat to the felony indictments.
If convicted, Lampl faces many years in prison. Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson said, Monday, that no arraignment date has been set, and there is no information on who is representing Lampl on the charges. The case has been assigned to Superior Court Judge Albert Collier.
The indictment concerns a commercial development, Olde Towne Morrow, which was created on the east grounds of Southlake Mall in Morrow.
One by one, historic homes were transported from various parts of the state to the site for use as shops and restaurants. The evolution of the planned commercial enterprise could be seen from I-75.
The project was to boost the local economy, and lure tourists, and travelers off the interstate. But city officials say the $12 million shopping district brought in only about $10,000 in revenue, and they started taking a closer look at the project.
Officials discovered that the structures do not meet fire and safety codes and lacked environmental and feasibility studies.
Olde Towne Morrow was closed in December, and city leaders are still mulling over its future. City Manager Jeff Eady could not be reached for comment Monday.
In the middle of it all, Lampl promoted Olde Towne Morrow as being developed on time, on budget and without issues, allegedly telling a Clayton County special purpose grand jury on June 17, "Olde Towne Morrow has no debt. It's all paid for."
Lawson said that statement constitutes perjury, the 16th of the counts against Lampl.
She also said Lampl circumvented state laws regarding public bids, by contracting with a house-moving company, renovation firm, buildings-materials business and tree service. The indictments allege that Lampl improperly entered into contracts to move houses from Palmetto, Reynolds, McDonough and Macon to the Olde Towne Morrow site to be transformed into businesses.
Other charges include falsifying fire safety inspections for businesses that moved into the development.