• Trial could go to jury soon for embattled state senator

    By: Richard Elliot


    ATLANTA - A jury could begin deciding the fate of an embattled Gwinnett County lawmaker as soon as Wednesday.

    State Sen. Don Balfour is on trial on charges he filed false expense reports with the state for travel and business reimbursements when, in some cases, he had those expenses paid for by his full-time employer Waffle House.

    Balfour's attorneys put former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes on the stand who said, despite the fact he is a Democrat and Balfour is a Republican, he always thought the Snellville lawmaker was an honest man.

    "Even though we had political differences during the time I was in the General Assembly and when I was governor, I found him to be a man of integrity," Barnes testified.

    After the prosecution rested, the defense spent the afternoon trying to poke holes in the case and even in the original criminal indictment which they pointed out was riddled with errors.

    Current Gov. Nathan Deal suspended Balfour after that indictment, and shortly afterwards, the Georgia Republican Party stripped him of his leadership positions, including as chairman of the powerful Senate Rules Committee.

    At the speed with which the trial is progressing, the jury could get the case and begin deliberations some time Wednesday.

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