A Fulton County grand jury has indicted state Sen. Don Balfour, R-Snellville, on 18 counts associated with alleged misuse of his legislative expense account, the Attorney General’s office said Friday.
Gov. Nathan Deal is expected to name a three-member panel to recommend whether or not Balfour, once the all-powerful Senate Rules Committee chairman, should be immediately suspended.
The three members are expected to include a member from the state Senate, the state House and a retired judge from either the state Supreme Court or the state Court of Appeals. Here’s the press release from Attorney General Sam Olens:
On Tuesday, September 24, 2013, a Fulton County Grand Jury charged Donald K. Balfour, II, with 16 counts of Making a False Certificate (O.C.G.A. § 28-1-8), one count of Theft by Taking (O.C.G.A. § 16-8-1) and one count of False Statement and Writing (O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20). A certified copy of the indictment was received from Fulton County Superior Court this morning.
These charges stem from Balfour’s submission of Georgia General Assembly expense vouchers indicating that he was entitled to reimbursement for mileage and per diem expenses to which, it is alleged, he was not entitled.
Making a False Certificate is punishable by one to five years imprisonment and/or up to a $1000 fine, Theft by Taking is punishable by one to ten years imprisonment and False Statement and Writing is punishable by one to five years imprisonment and/or up to a $1000 fine.
Assistant Attorney General Laura Pfister and Senior Assistant Attorney General David McLaughlin are prosecuting the case on behalf of the State of Georgia. The case was investigated by Special Agent Wesley Horne and Forensic Auditor Laquintus Perry of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
We reached out to Senate President pro tem David Shafer, R-Duluth, the leader of the chamber. Here’s his reaction:
“Our hearts go out to the members of Senator Balfour’s family.
”The Senate takes seriously its responsibility to safeguard the tax dollars of this state. We appointed a new Senate Rules Chairman earlier this year, and his first official act was to appoint the Audit Subcommittee required by state law. The Audit Subcommittee has been diligently working to review examine legislative expense accounts. The Audit Subcommittee met as recently as August 8 and will soon meet again.”
Balfour is now the second state lawmaker currently facing criminal charges. Longtime state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, D-Atlanta, was indicted by a federal grand jury earlier this year on charges of tax evasion and misuse of monies donated to private foundations.