0

Ellenwood woman pleads guilty to extortion charges
Covington man awaits trial in scheme

COVINGTON - Natalie Nicole Dunn, 32, of Ellenwood, a former DeKalb County probation officer and co-conspirator in a charge-fixing extortion scheme involving a Newton County man, pleaded guilty in Federal Court on Thursday afternoon, United States Attorney David E. Nahmias said.

"This former DeKalb County probation officer has now admitted that she tried to use her position to assist a charged drug dealer in obtaining a dismissal of his case in exchange for cash. Now she will face a federal prison sentence for her intolerable attempt to corrupt the justice system," Nahmias said in announcing the plea.

Her alleged co-conspirator in the case is Keith L. Hughes, 39, of 160 Cypress Drive, Covington, who is the former DeKalb County pretrial services coordinator.

According to evidence presented by Nahmias in court, a defendant (referred to as "the source") told the FBI that after his arrest for drug offenses in DeKalb County, Dunn contacted him and offered to ensure that he would receive a dismissal of pending criminal charges in exchange for a $25,000 payment to Dunn and Hughes.

"In December 2008, the source also met with Dunn and Hughes inside Hughes' office located at the DeKalb County Courthouse. During the meeting, Hughes told the source that Dunn and he would falsely report to the Office of the DeKalb County District Attorney that the source was cooperating in the investigation of others. By doing so, Hughes said he would ensure that the source's pending drug-trafficking charge would be dismissed," a printed press release from Nahmias states.

Dunn, along with Hughes, was indicted in March. Dunn pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging one count of conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. A sentencing date for Dunn has not been set.

Hughes awaits trial on charges of conspiring to commit extortion under color of official right and attempting to commit extortion under color of official right. His trial date has not yet been set.

Barbara Knowles can be reached at barbara.knowles@newtoncitizen.com.