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.