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DA asks for investigator to look into corruption

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gwinnett's district attorney is asking for more money to fight government corruption.

Two days after a former commissioner was sentenced to federal prison, Danny Porter asked a budget review team Friday to consider the addition of an assistant chief investigator for his office.

The new employee's primary function would involve leading investigations into public integrity, which have spiked in the last three years, when he began looking into controversial land dealings involving commissioners.

In addition to Shirley Lasseter's guilty plea to a federal bribery charge, the investigations have lead to the indictment of former Commissioner Kevin Kenerly on a bribery charge, and former Chairman Charles Bannister resigned to avoid a perjury charge.

Porter said he has fielded dozens of complaints of corruption in county and city governments and other authorities, and he brought along a handtruck stacked with boxes to show the level of work involved in just the smallest of the public integrity cases to show the budget team, made up of Chairwoman Charlotte Nash and six residents.

"Most of (the accusations) are completely unfounded, but I have to look at every single one of them," he said. "Just because it's politically motivated doesn't mean it's not true."

Porter also asked for funding for an interpreter and a clerk for the victims program, currently funded by stimulus dollars due to expire at the end of the year.

But his biggest budget increase could come from a staff of three he hopes to add to deal with an increase in "acountability courts" in the Gwinnett judicial system.

Local judges hope to use state funding to beef up a seven-year-old drug court and add mental health and veterans courts to deal with the underlying issues that cause crime, an option opened up by a new state law aimed at reducing the prison population.

But Porter said the state does not provide money for the prosecutor's office for the work, often more detailed than a case in regular courtrooms.

The new law also could have an impact on the county sheriff's office, Chief Deputy Mike Boyd said in a presentation earlier in the day.

The Criminal Justice Reform Act reclassifies many crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, Boyd said, giving examples of the threshold on shoplifting rising from $500 to $1,500 to warrant a felony.

The impact is hard to predict, he said, because of the factors involved in sentencing and such. But the sheriff's office is reimbursed for housing inmates convicted of a felony in the county jail, while it must house those convicted of misdemeanors at its own expense.

"You know there is going to be an impact," he said.

Boyd expressed a similar wake-up call to the budget review team as Police Chief Charlie Walters did the day before, saying the office is looking officers to other jobs since raises have been eliminated in prior years.

He also talked about the predicted rise in costs from health care increases and a Midwest drought's affect on food prices.

Comments

rco1847 1 year, 7 months ago

Politicians aren't going to provide mooney to have themselves investigated; Especially the Republican Aristocracy.

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R 1 year, 7 months ago

Sorry,

This dog doesn’t hunt very well because so many of the evil “Republican Aristocracy” you are so focused on actually came over from the evil “Democrat Aristocracy”…

So it looks like BOTH sides have challenges with investigations of things.

This should be the real “Bipartisan focus” of the voter class and we don't have to wait on Washington to do something about it.

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NewsReader 1 year, 7 months ago

This liberal troll will capitalize on any opportunity to smear a Republican. He has a century's supply of Kool-Aid!

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docgreen1499 1 year, 7 months ago

Chief Boyd might want to re-check his facts....the old threshold for shoplifting to be charged as a felony was $300.00......now it is $500.00. The one he is talking about is "theft"....maybe "Butch" needs to have his high ranking officials go out and work the road every once and a while to stay current with what the front line troops are doing....

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roaads1 1 year, 7 months ago

The DA's office is a big reason why Gwinnett hasn't taken the same path Dekalb and others have. We need to make sure our law enforcement and judicial branch is well funded before pet projects get funded. The corruption has and will cost Gwinnett far more than the DA needs if they know they can't be investigated. Give them the tools they need.

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Dubbin 1 year, 7 months ago

Porter interested in corruption? Please. He had 16 years to deal with Kenerly and never did. He endorsed Bannister when he KNEW Bannister was a crook. He sat idly by while all the bad deals went down THEN once the Feds stepped in he becomes Mr. Enforcement. What a poser - must be a TV camera around somewhere.

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NorcrossDot 1 year, 7 months ago

Dubbin. Dead on! That's why I am an independent although the Repubs have tried to get me to join. My answer each time is not until you get rid of the RINOS or "good ole boys".

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LilburnLady 1 year, 7 months ago

Enforcement of law is one of the basic pillars of the government. It is what government SHOULD be doing, first and foremost and it should be adequately funded. With the amount of long-term, systemic corruption that is being brought to light, I think a 3-person team to investigate and prosecute corruption is very, very reasonable. Corruption has already cost Gwinnett County millions upon millions of dollars in over-priced land deals with developers and a slew of lawsuits against the County for improper zoning decisions.

Adequately funding a staff to bring an end to this culture of illegal activity, "good old boy" cronyism and an arrogant "above the law" attitude among our "public servants" would probably save us money in the long run. In addition, we need some basic ethics rules, that would prevent commissioners from appointing their friends and business aquaintances (aka Shirley Lasseter appointing Mark Gary to the Planning Commission) to positions of power in the county. Also, preventing anyone sitting on a planning, zoning or county commission from participating in any way in real estate development would be a great way to clean house. This whole past year has shown just how lax our ethics rules and enforcement of law has been with regard to our elected (or appointed) officials.

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JCJB 1 year, 7 months ago

Too bad the DA's office is just as corrupt as the rest of the county. Investigating "corruption" will keep the focus off the DA's office.

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jack 1 year, 7 months ago

The County is preparing its 2013 budget.

Recent headlines in the GDP:
"Fire department having trouble hitting optimum response times"
"Chief asks for raises to retain police officers"
And now this story.
Looks as if we're being prepped for: "County to raise taxes".

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RedDawn 1 year, 7 months ago

Absolutely right Dubbin. Back in the day, there was a group of county and various city politicians along with other well connected folks that used to regularly meet for Sunday breakfast at the Shoney's restaurant that used to be on Pleasant Hill Road at I-85. I'm sure that they never discussed anything that might violate the open meetings laws (wink, wink). Some called them the Buford Mafia.

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wrighton 1 year, 7 months ago

What has Porter really done about political corruption & cronyism? How long has he been in this position? He himself involved himself in politics several years ago with Kenerly. Now FEDS involved he wants more money to investigate locally. Where was he YEARS ago investigating politicians and asking for money for this purpose? Lassiter going to jail is the 1st and she is relatively NEW. Any investigations into planning department? Any other departments? The DA office itself? Is there a statute of limitations of time with politicians?

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Don 1 year, 7 months ago

The last election he supported Loraine Green I believe and that is why Bannister would not talk to him.

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Dubbin 1 year, 7 months ago

Porter endorsed Bannister. I remember getting the Bannister mail pieces touting it in my mailbox.

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