Monday, April 21, 2014

Deal appoints panel including Tyrone’s Chance to review Balfour case


By Pat Cooper

State Senate Majority Leader Ronnie Chance (R-Tyrone) has been appointed to a panel that will determine whether or not to suspend indicated state Senator Don Balfour (R-Snellville) from office.
Chance will serve with state House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal (R-Bonaire) and retired state Supreme Court Chief Justice George Carley.
The governor’s executive order calls for the panel to issue a written report with its determination by Nov. 15. The panel’s ruling is final.
Balfour was indicted in late September on 18 counts- 16 of making a false certificate, one of theft by taking and one of false statement and writing- associated with alleged misuse of his legislative expense account.
 The state constitution calls for the panel to determine if the indictment relates to and adversely affects the administration of the elected office. If it determines it does, the panel would suspend Balfour from the General Assembly. The senator would continue to receive his legislative pay and benefits in the meantime, but he would not be able to perform any official functions of his office.
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 taking is punishable by 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.


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