Of Counsel

Legal Notes on Georgia and The South

Back to Blogging and Local News

Posted by Maggie on September 4, 2007

Sorry for the long break over Labor Day.  I’d hoped to get a post up before I left town but didn’t get a chance to do so.  I plan to get back to regular updating this week, though it’s always tough to play catch-up after taking a little time off. 

While I was gone, though, the blog got its first set of google search results.  The craigslist prostitution story continues to be the biggest hit.  Doesn’t seem to be getting much press. 

I took a real vacation, meaning I didn’t read newspapers while I was gone, including the AJC.  On my return, there’s little of interest.  There is a tiny blip of a story about a death penalty trial about to start, but very few details are offered.  Hopefully they’ll get into more detail later.

Since I didn’t see much in the AJC, I went digging through the local tv sites for more. It yielded this video report from Fox 5 on the aforementioned murder trial. The story is still short on details–we know where and how they were murdered but there’s little on the suspect–but does reveal it’s expected to be a five-week trial. There’s also lots of comment by one victim’s family, especially regarding the change of venue. While I wasn’t in the area when the crime occurred, it seems like exactly the type to get a lot of media play. For now, with the distant location, I doubt we’ll get many updates from news outlets.

One story that seems to have slipped under my radar before I left town involves the alleged misappropriation of funds by the DA in the Piedmont Circuit near Athens. I’m surprised not to see more information on an important political figure in one of Georgia’s largest cities. The article alleges that victim assistance funds were improperly used.

Madison’s victim assistance funds were used to pay for travel, meals and whitewater rafting, in addition to salaries and general office operations, according to copies of bank statements obtained through open records requests. Since Madison’s office maintained the accounts, spending apparently circumvented county commission or city council scrutiny.

They also offer examples of how other DA’s are preventing these problems.

“That couldn’t happen here,” said Western Circuit District Attorney Ken Mauldin, whose office covers Clarke and Oconee counties. “We keep all of our finances at arm’s length. You need to be able to be audited. There needs to be safeguards, so (if) anybody has questions, you’re well above board.”

The Ocmulgee circuit has one county hold the funds and the Western circuit sends the money directly to both their counties. Of note, though, in this article is that it claims the GBI investigation “didn’t uncover anything illegal in the way Madison used the victim assistance money.” An older story finds the investigation went into four different accounts, including one holding money taken from drug busts. But then we’re told that the drug account and the victim’s assistance account aren’t part of the indictment. The GBI claims funds were used “inappropriately” but not enough to indict. But then we’re told that money was illegally diverted from county funds to cover office expenses, including salaries. The indictment includes the DA, his wife, and one ADA who’s since left the office. The DA’s wife just so happens to be the director of victim’s assistance and she’s also charged with falsifying time cards.

More on the specific indictments after the jump…

The first two counts charge the DA and ADA with theft by taking and receiving but the funds referred to are from the ADA’s salary. The second two counts contain charges for the DA and ADA with violation of their oath. There are several counts charging the DA’s wife with falsifying time cards. The last count charges the DA and his Wife with conspiracy to defraud by having his wife placed on the county payroll and to falsify time cards.

Very little in terms of details, but hopefully there will be some follow-up.

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One Response to “Back to Blogging and Local News”

  1. […] by Maggie on December 11, 2007 I reported a couple months ago on the firing of the Piedmont Circuit District Attorney. (The Piedmont Circuit covers areas around Athens, the home of the University of Georgia.) That […]

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