GBI seizes financial records in probe of Clayton police chief

GBI and Clayton County investigators seized financial records detailing pay police Chief Greg Porter received during his previous part-time job with the local DUI court. Porter is being investigated by the state for theft by deception and making false statements related to his off-duty work.

“This is a crime scene,” a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent said Thursday when visitors tried to enter the Clayton County Finance Department.

Several hours later two GBI agents and an investigator from the Clayton district attorney’s office left the county office building with two boxes of documents. They later took another two boxes from the location where the county’s archived records are stored.

Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson had asked the GBI to investigate the finances of the federally funded program that is administered by the Georgia Administrative Office of the Courts.

“Clayton County State Court Judge Linda Cowen and court administrator Matt Sorenson have brought to my attention allegations of theft of approximately $36,000 in grant money by Clayton County Police Department Chief Greg Porter and his brother [deputy] Robert Porter,” Lawson wrote in a June letter to GBI Director Vernon Keenan.“Due to other large ongoing public corruption investigations, we do not have time to investigate this case and need your assistance,” the DA wrote.

Those investigations are being conducted by a special purpose grand jury that Lawson assembled in April 2011. So far, that grand jury’s findings have led to the indictments for former Sheriff Victor Hill, who was elected in the Aug. 21 primary runoff to reclaim the office on Jan. 1, and of former Morrow City Manager and Councilman John Lampl. That grand jury is investigating other officials and recently issued search warrants for the travel records of three Clayton County Commission members and the county manager.

Lawson said her office will not be a part of the investigation of the Porters. Instead, she said, the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council would review the GBI’s findings once the investigation is completed.

Porter, the chief, referred questions to his attorney, Manny Arora, who was out of town Thursday.

“Hopefully, they can quickly review all the relevant records and bring the investigation to a close,” Arora wrote in a text message.

Robert Porter could not be reached Thursday afternoon, and the name of his lawyer, if he has one, was not known.

According to the search warrant obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the GBI wanted time sheets, records of reimbursements for travel and training, checks, travel expense reports and “non payroll related checks.” All the records involved either the Porters, their businesses — Eagle Eye Consulting and Busy Body Consulting — or the Administrative Office of the Courts from Oct. 1, 2008, to the present.

In 2009, then-deputy police chief Greg Porter took a part-time job of monitoring those in the court-ordered DUI program by ensuring curfews observed and by conducting random alcohol tests. The job then passed on to Robert Porter when Greg Porter was promoted to chief in September 2010.

Greg Porter has said the DUI program was a financial and administrative mess and there may have been some overpayment and missed payments. Porter told Channel 2 Action News early this month that he had paid back about $13,000, just in case he had been overpaid, about 2 1/2 years ago, but he feels it is likely he is still owed money for his work.

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