Georgia State Sen. Don Balfour (R-Lawrenceville, Snellville)
ATLANTA -- A Fulton County grand jury has indicted Georgia state Sen. Donald Balfour (R-Snellville) on 18 separate counts related to his submission of General Assembly expense reimbursement vouchers, which prosecutors say he was not entitled to.
Balfour faces 16 counts of making a false certificate, one count of theft by taking, and one count of false statement and writing.
The indictment says Balfour submitted false reimbursement vouchers for 29 different dates between 2007 and 2011. Typically, the vouchers were for "mileage reimbursement for travel from Snellville to Atlanta and back to Snellville."
The state routinely pays per diem and mileage expenses for lawmakers. But the indictment says Balfour submitted reimbursement vouchers for expenditures that he never actually made -- on days he wasn't at the Capitol.
Balfour's attorney told 11Alive's Blayne Alexander the allegations are false.
"Our investigation revealed that he might have made some inadvertent mistakes, but he certainly didn't intentionally take anything from the state," said attorney Patrick McDonough.
The discrepancies were first reported in Atlanta Unfiltered -- where blogger Jim Walls noticed that Balfour had submitted mileage expenses on days in which lobbyists had separately reported spending money on him in New Orleans and San Antonio.
The indictment also accuses Balfour of theft by taking. It accuses him of double-dipping an expense report -- taking a state reimbursement check "greater than $500" -- even though he was "was also reimbursed by (his employer) Waffle House Inc." for the same amount.
If convicted, each count of making a false certificate could lead to one-to-five years imprisonment and/or up to a $1,000 fine. Theft by is punishable to one-to-10 years in prison, and false statement and writing is punishable by one-to-five years imprisonment and/or up to a $1,000 fine.