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Fulton DA, commissioners seek answers in forfeiture spending
by Staff
June 26, 2013 09:59 AM | 1203 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard recently announced he will make a formal request to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to conduct an independent review of funds spent by his office that come from property seized from suspected criminals.

According to supporter and county Commissioner Robb Pitts, Howard has recently come under media scrutiny for how his office has spent forfeiture funds.

“By asking the GBI to review those expenditures, he feels strongly that the public will be able to see that the funds were spent within the confines of the law,” Pitts said in a statement. “He feels that he has done nothing illegal.”

The law, however, may also need review.

Pitts said he carefully reviewed the legislation and was concerned that the current guidelines could best be described as vague.

He supports placing tighter, more restrictive guidelines that specify the appropriate uses for forfeiture funds.

Pitts introduced legislation to the board of commissioners at its recess meeting last week to require all recipients of the funds to submit to no less than annual audits of forfeiture fund expenditures.

“State law needs to be crystal clear as to what is permissible and what is not to avoid the appearance of impropriety,” he said. “Until the law can be changed, it is incumbent upon the board of commissioners to enact a policy that ensures a high level of transparency on how forfeiture funds are spent. The district attorney has shown that he welcomes that transparency and I applaud that.”

The board approved the resolution to monitor forfeiture funds with annual audits of departments’ expenditures of those funds.

“Hopefully in the 2014 legislative session, the general assembly will change the state law so that it is crystal clear as to what is permissible and what is not to avoid the appearance of impropriety,” Pitts said.

“Until the law can be changed, I felt that it was important that the board of commissioners enact a policy that ensures a high level of transparency on how forfeiture funds are spent and the board agreed.”
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