Monday November 30th, 2015 1:49PM

Jurors deliberating in Balfour case

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA - A Georgia state lawmaker accused of inaccurately claiming mileage and expenses told jurors he didn't intentionally try to get extra money from the state.

A jury was deliberating Wednesday evening in the trial of Sen. Don Balfour. The Snellville Republican was indicted in September on felony charges of making a false certificate, theft by taking and a count of false statement and writing. He is accused of illegally claiming legislative expense and mileage pay and double-billing the state and his private employer for some expenses.

After about three days, which included testimony from former governors and other legislators, Balfour was the defense's final witness. He told jurors he was very busy as chairman of the Senate Rules committee and as an executive of Atlanta-based Waffle House, and that the inaccurate filings were unintentional.

``Juggling a thousand things at once is what I had to do,'' he said. ``And when you juggle things, sometimes balls fall down.''

Balfour has been under legal scrutiny for payments that he received for his work in the General Assembly. His lawyers have said Balfour is being unfairly targeted for inadvertent mistakes.

Balfour previously agreed to pay a $5,000 fine levied by the Senate Ethics Committee for accepting pay for in-state work and travel on days when he was elsewhere. Lawmakers can only claim that pay if they are conducting official business inside Georgia. They can collect expenses while traveling outside the state if they are part of an approved delegation.

Gov. Nathan Deal last month signed an order suspending Balfour. The Senate Republican leadership reacted swiftly, removing him from his committee leadership positions and suspending him from the Senate Republican Caucus.

Balfour told jurors the state overestimated how much he owed, and said there were 115 days when he was doing state work and didn't claim a legislative per diem. That adds up to more than $23,000 he could have claimed, he said.

``I should've gotten paid per diems for those days but for the fact that I didn't turn them in,'' he said. ``It wasn't important. I wasn't there for the money.''
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Ethics laws set to take effect Jan. 1 in Georgia
After dominating much of the legislative session, a set of major ethics reforms is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
7:04PM ( 1 year ago )
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Dems, GOP seek to define issue for 2014 elections
Ten months to next year's midterm elections, Democrats are determined to make Congress' slim production of fewer than 60 laws and plenty of incompletes - on immigration, gun control, tax reform and basic spending bills - a defining issue, heaping much of the blame on the GOP-led House for obstructing President Barack Obama's second-term agenda.
1:38PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
Mexican sales tax hike seen as boon on US border
Mexican license plates are common in parking lots of shopping malls in U.S. border cities. They will be even more familiar after Mexico raises its federal sales tax in border regions to match the rest of the country, say merchants and shoppers.
11:06AM ( 1 year ago )
Congress returns to unfinished business, Dec. 11 deadline to complete must-pass spending bill
WASHINGTON (AP) — A top House leader predicted Monday that Washington will avoid stumbling into a government shutdown next week over a tea party-backed drive to take away Planned Parenthood's funding....
1:40PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Man struck by car, killed on Athens Hwy. south of Gainesville
Charges are pending in a weekend accident that killed a pedestrian on Athens Highway.
1:34PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Georgia's Mark Richt not done coaching, will listen to anyone interested in giving him a job
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Mark Richt remains interested in another coaching job and said Monday he will listen "to anybody who has interest in me" as he prepares for his final game as Georgia's coach.Georgia...
1:10PM ( 38 minutes ago )
Flowery Branch man charged with Thanksgiving Day attack on juveniles
Flowery Branch police have arrested a man for a Thanksgiving Day assault on two juveniles.
12:49PM ( 1 hour ago )
Three men seriously injured in Forsyth Co. ATV crash
Three men are recovering from serious injuries following an ATV (all terrain vehicle) crash late Saturday night in Forsyth County.
12:15PM ( 1 hour ago )