December 17, 2013

Ex-governor testifies at state Sen. Balfour trial


Associated Press

ATLANTA — A former Democratic governor took the stand Tuesday to testify on behalf of a suspended Republican state lawmaker who is accused of filing false expense reports with state government.

State Sen. Don Balfour, of Snellville, is accused of illegally claiming legislative expense pay and double-billing the state and his private employer.

District Attorney David McLaughlin showed jurors copies of statements saying the reports Balfour submitted were accurate and said the case is less about money and more about loyalty, and respect of a system.  

Former Gov. Roy Barnes said he considered Balfour to be upstanding, despite prosecutors saying he repeatedly submitted false expense reports.

“Even though we had political differences during the time I was in the General Assembly and when I was governor, I found him to be a man of integrity,” Barnes said.

Balfour’s attorney, Ken Hodges, has said Balfour doesn’t dispute he submitted incorrect expense reports. Balfour made mistakes, and repaid the money every time mistakes were brought to his attention, Hodges said.

Opening statements in the trial began Monday.  

Balfour has been charged with 16 counts of making a false certificate, one count of theft by taking and one count of false statement and writing.

The trial is being heard in Fulton County Superior Court, and Balfour is expected to testify. The jury could begin deliberations before the end of the week.