ATLANTA -- Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard is defending the way he's been spending tens of thousands of dollarsconfiscated from criminals.
Part of the money, he said Friday, has paid for extra security following death threats he's received.
"The confiscated funds in question are moneys seized from criminals, particularly drug pushers. They're not taxpayer dollars," he said.
Howard read a statement to reporters responding to news reports published Friday that raise questions about how he and his office have been spending the money.
Instead of using the crooks' cash to help put other crooks behind bars, according to the reports, Howard has also been spending the money on office parties, and donations to charities, and other non-law-enforcement purposes.
"I and my staff believe that every expenditure made is clearly within the specified guidelines," Howard said.
And he passed out copies of a couple of the death threats he's received going back eight years to explain that that's why he used some of the money on a new security system at his home.
"The security door, along with other security measures, was added as a result of several threats to my life as well as the lives of my family. After receiving these threats, I was advised on several occasions to permanently post a district attorney's investigator at my home. Or a police officer, as is done by other elected officials. After evaluating this matter, I believed that adding the security door and other security measures was a more prudent and more effective method as opposed to having a salaried officer stationed outside my home."
Howard says two other employees in his office have also received extra security at their homes, paid for by the money confiscated from criminals.
William Perry of Common Cause in Atlanta told 11Alive News Friday he's concerned about many of the reported expenditures "because they are highly inappropriate and don't do anything to benefit the people of Fulton County. Particularly the contributions to charity.While they benefit the charity, they also benefit the individual giving the money. So Paul Howard receives the benefit of giving these contributions. It would be more appropriate for the money to come from his campaign accounts, because it benefits him as a public official."
Howard did not answer reporters' questions after reading his statement, saying only, "I believe that our judgment at the district attorney's office has been sound."