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Georgia DA accused of accepting bribe to reduce criminal charges in shooting

A grand jury indicted two people on multiple felonies, but the district attorney reduced it to misdemeanors, resulting in only probation and $1,000 fines.

Lindsey Basye, Andy Pierrotti

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11Alive's investigative team, The Reveal, has uncovered bribery allegations connected to a sitting Georgia district attorney already under indictment for the same crime.

The accusations are that Paulding County District Attorney Dick Donovan accepted a bribe in 2013 to reduce charges against two people connected to a shooting. 

According to court records in a recently closed criminal case file, multiple law enforcement officials requested the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to look into the claims.

Earlier this year, state investigators closed the case without filing charges, but video evidence in the case point to claims of a quid pro quo between the district attorney and the owner of a Paulding County car dealership.

In the case file, obtained through a public records request, includes a one minute, 46 second video of Barry Lathe Poole Jr, a former salesperson who worked at the Hardy Automotive Dealership in Dallas, Georgia.

According to Poole, he sold Donovan a vehicle in 2012. During the transaction, Poole said he witnessed his boss, president of Hardy Automotive, Johnny Hardy, ask the D.A. to reduce pending charges against two family members arrested for a shooting.

Credit: WXIA

“[Johnny] turned around, put his hands on his shoulders actually, he said, ‘Dick, are you going to be able to help us out?” Poole said he heard Hardy say to Donovan. “I heard Mr. Donovan tell Johnny, ’Johnny, don’t worry about it. I’m doing all I can do.”

Poole said he heard Hardy respond with a promise.

“’You just do what you got to do… we appreciate it…you know you’ll be taken care of,” Poole said he heard Hardy mention to the D.A.