State News

December 18, 2013

Jurors deliberating in Balfour case

ATLANTA — A Georgia state lawmaker accused of inaccurately claiming mileage and expenses told jurors he didn’t intentionally try to get extra money from the state.

A jury was deliberating Wednesday evening in the trial of Sen. Don Balfour. The Snellville Republican was indicted in September on felony charges of making a false certificate, theft by taking and a count of false statement and writing. He is accused of illegally claiming legislative expense and mileage pay and double-billing the state and his private employer for some expenses.

After about three days, which included testimony from former governors and other legislators, Balfour was the defense’s final witness. He told jurors he was very busy as chairman of the Senate Rules committee and as an executive of Atlanta-based Waffle House, and that the inaccurate filings were unintentional.

“Juggling a thousand things at once is what I had to do,” he said. “And when you juggle things, sometimes balls fall down.”

Balfour has been under legal scrutiny for payments that he received for his work in the General Assembly. His lawyers have said Balfour is being unfairly targeted for inadvertent mistakes.  

Balfour previously agreed to pay a $5,000 fine levied by the Senate Ethics Committee for accepting pay for in-state work and travel on days when he was elsewhere. Lawmakers can only claim that pay if they are conducting official business inside Georgia. They can collect expenses while traveling outside the state if they are part of an approved delegation.    

Gov. Nathan Deal last month signed an order suspending Balfour. The Senate Republican leadership reacted swiftly, removing him from his committee leadership positions and suspending him from the Senate Republican Caucus.

Balfour told jurors the state overestimated how much he owed, and said there were 115 days when he was doing state work and didn’t claim a legislative per diem. That adds up to more than $23,000 he could have claimed, he said.

“I should’ve gotten paid per diems for those days but for the fact that I didn’t turn them in,” he said. “It wasn’t important. I wasn’t there for the money.”

 

1
Text Only
State News
  • One charged in death of Dalton woman, another sought

    A Dalton woman found dead in Calhoun earlier this month is believed to have died of a drug overdose after two Calhoun residents abandoned her in a car behind the VFW on East Line Street, Lt. Tony Pyle with the Calhoun Police Department said Wednesday afternoon.

    June 18, 2014

  • Guard shot at FedEx center to undergo 14th surgery

    A security guard critically wounded when a gunman went on a rampage at a FedEx facility is scheduled to undergo his 14th operation Tuesday.

    May 27, 2014

  • Arson ruled out as cause of chemical plant fire

    Police say investigators have been able to rule out arson or foul play as the cause of a massive fire at a chemical plant outside Atlanta that spewed black smoke and flames visible for miles.

    May 27, 2014

  • Teen tied to shopping cart drowns in lake

    Georgia Department of Natural Resources officials say a teen has died after being tied to a shopping cart and pushed into Lake Allatoona.

    May 25, 2014

  • Underground tattoo artists frustrate officials

    The work of tattoo artists whose living rooms double as body art studios might come cheap, but experts say the unsterile -- and illegal -- work environments could leave clients in pain long after the initial sting of the needle subsides.

    May 25, 2014

  • No runoff lets Republicans focus on Rep. Barrow

    While Georgia Republicans have to wait until July to settle runoff races for the U.S. Senate and three open House seats, one of the biggest GOP victories in the primary elections last week went to Augusta businessman Rick W. Allen.

    May 25, 2014

  • Audit probes juvenile justice turnover rate

    A state audit cites low pay, long hours and management concerns as reasons for a relatively high turnover rate at the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice.

    May 25, 2014

  • Atlanta schools ex-tech director to be sentenced

    After his relationship with the superintendent of Atlanta’s school system soured, a former technology director for the district set up a kickback scheme to pad his pockets before he left his job, according to court documents.

    May 24, 2014

  • Georgia veteran, 92, honored at surprise ceremony

    Family and friends surprised a 92-year-old World War II veteran from Georgia on Memorial Day by honoring him and presenting him with the World War II Victory Medal.

    May 24, 2014

  • Police: Massive chemical plant fire extinguished

    Authorities say a massive fire at a chemical plant outside Atlanta that spewed black smoke and flames visible for miles has been extinguished.

    May 24, 2014