Clayton County Police Chief Greg Porter was suspended without pay Wednesday pending the outcome of a year-old criminal investigation into whether he illegally profited from work he did for the county.
His attorney, Manny Arora, noted that when the investigation first became public, the commission decided to leave Porter in the position. The investigation continues, and Porter has not been charged with a crime.
“This happened over a year ago,” Arora said.
Since then, however, a new chairman and a new commissioner have taken office. Clayton County Commission chairman Jeff Turner could not be reached for comment to explain the decision to suspend Porter.
The criminal probe began last June when Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to look into the suspected theft of $36,000 in federal grant money for court programs. Special prosecutor Chuck Spahos was named last August. The investigation remains open and Spahos, who is also executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, said there was no estimate as to when it will be decided whether to bring charges.
Prosecutors are reviewing Porter’s time as deputy police chief in 2009 when he took a part-time job monitoring enrollees in the court-ordered DUI program by ensuring curfews were observed and by conducting random alcohol tests. The job then passed on to Porter’s brother, Robert, when he was promoted to chief in September 2010.
According to the letter Porter received, he had to turn in his keys, his county-issued car, his badge and his county laptop. Porter was issued a cellphone to communicate with the Clayton County Commission chairman and board members and the county’s chief operating officer. He is not to be in contact with police department staff or other county employees and he cannot enter county property without permission from Commission Chairman Jeff Turner or the COO.
The letter said he could tap into annual leave so he will not be without income. And if he is cleared of any suspicions and reinstated, Porter will receive back pay.
More than a year ago, Porter said the DUI program was a financial and administrative mess and there may have been some overpayment and missed payments. Porter said then that News early he had paid back about $13,000, just in case he had been overpaid.
Arora said Porter had since received a check for several hundred dollars along with a letter from the county’s finance office that said “they owed us money.”
“The documentation and all the records and billing statements I’ve gone through indicate that he didn’t over bill,” Arora said.
Arora said Porter had not decided if he would challenge his suspension.