ATLANTA (AP) -- The number of federal corruption prosecutions has increased in the Northern District of Georgia in recent years, an increase that law enforcement officials attribute in part to an increased focus on targeting corrupt officials.
An analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found the number of corruption convictions in the federal Northern District of Georgia (which includes U.S. District Court in Gainesville) rose from just six in 2006 to 32 in both 2010 and 2011. The region ranked 51st in the country in corruption convictions in 2006. Four years later, it ranked sixth out of 93 federal districts.
During the 10-year period starting in 2002, the northern district saw 181 public corruption convictions, ranking it 22nd among the 93 districts. Metro Atlanta ranked behind New Jersey, Chicago and South Florida.
These statistics do not prove which regions are the most corrupt. They are not adjusted to include differences in population and the number of state-level corruption cases. They can be influenced by the differing priorities of prosecutors.
Still, University of Illinois-Chicago professor Dick Simpson, who has analyzed corruption conviction rates, said the statistics are the best available measure of corruption levels in different parts of the country. He described the increased number of cases in metro Atlanta as "worrisome."
The head of Atlanta's FBI office, Mark Giuliano, said public corruption prosecutions are the top priority. The bureau earlier worked with state and local law enforcement agencies to establish a corruption taskforce.
"The damage caused by such activity can be immense due to large monetary losses to the taxpayer, the disruption of normal operations of government, as well as the loss of public trust," Giuliano said.
(AccessNorthGa.com's Ken Stanford contributed to this story.)