Georgia Democrat Officials Indicted For Felony Will Have Some Legal Fees Paid By Taxpayers

The three elected Democrat officials in Georgia’s Douglas County accused of committing felony bid rigging will have some of their legal fees paid by the taxpayers of the county. 

As previously reported, multiple Democrat state officials were recently indicted for allegedly “taking money to use their positions of power to grant special priority to a company” owned by a political supporter.

“The indictment relates to a contract awarded to S&A Express for professional janitorial services for the Douglas County Annex Building,” the report added. “Democrat Douglas County Chairwoman Romona Jackson Jones, Democrat Douglas County Commissioner Henry Mitchell, and Democrat Douglas County Tax Commissioner Greg Baker were all charged with Conspiracy in Restraint of Free and Open Competition in Transactions. Former Purchasing Director Bill Peacock, and Anthony Knight, owner of S&A Express, were also indicted on the same charge.”

According to Fox 5 Atlanta, a county policy “updated in November 2022 okayed paying an additional $25,000 for an employee’s legal fees above what is covered by the county insurance policy.”

“If the claim is not covered, Douglas County could pay $75,000 in legal fees for each employee,” the outlet added. 

“The Board of Commissioners may by resolution approve payment of a higher amount on a case-by-case basis,” the policy says.

“The assumption is that one accused of something like that, would be innocent until proven otherwise,” explained county attorney Michael Coleman at an October 2022 commission meeting, per Fox 5 Atlanta.

This week, county attorney Coleman told Fox 5 Atlanta. “I have requested small initial retainers be paid to their lawyers to make sure that the accused are not without counsel during these preliminary stages. Any such payments by the County will be submitted to insurance for reimbursement.”

White collar crime attorney expert Jessica Cino told the outlet this is not a common practice.

“I would say that’s atypical,” she said. “Generally we say that doesn’t look good optically.”

The new policy did have some conditions in which the county would not pay: “If the Claim involves allegations of theft, dishonesty, embezzlement, or other like crimes with respect to the property or money of or in which the County has an interest.”

However, Cino pointed out that the indictments clearly fall under those categories, and its understandable why taxpayers might be upset.

“Sure, they’re there to serve the public,” she said. “So learning that the very people that you’ve entrusted to serve your community, your county are getting some of their legal fees fronted to them, people are going to be very upset by that.”

D & B Staff

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