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ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Don Buie will spend a year in jail for stealing tax money.
There was some drama at the Dougherty County Courthouse Tuesday night. Jurors in the former downtown manager's trial couldn't reach a verdict after several hours of deliberations.
The judge sent them back to the jury room after 5:00 PM and as they deliberated prosecutors and the defense sat down and hashed out a plea deal.
Buie will spend a year in jail and nine years on probation. He must repay the Albany Dougherty Inner City Authority $5,000 and he'll be banished from Dougherty County.
Just before 8:00 PM, Don Buie returned to the courtroom a final time and stood before Judge Denise Marshall to plead guilty to nine counts of his 19 count indictment.
"Right, theft by taking by a government employees and false statements and writings," said Judge Denise Marshall.
District Attorney Greg Edwards said with a hung jury earlier in the evening, the agreement was satisfactory and struck at the most serious charges Buie faced, the ADICA checks written to his wife.
"This was the critical key of the public corruption aspect of this case and that's why we felt it was essential that it be a part of the case that the plea was entered into," said Edwards.
Defense Attorney Johnnie Graham somewhat agreed.
"There's no indication that the wife didn't do the work but, there are certain rules that are required that disclosure be made and that were not made in this case so he recognizes now that that was not proper," said Graham.
Graham added Buie still maintains he did not provide money to his wife or Nicole Brown based on personal relationships but for work they did. Graham again suggested more investigation is needed into ADICA's finances.
"Behaviors, certain conduct that doesn't get written about that doesn't get brought into court but should be," said Graham.
She called the case a political battle.
"This was first and foremost a political trial. The practical applications of the law in this case would have resulted in or should have resulted in resolution a long time ago, that didn't happen," said Graham.
District Attorney Greg Edwards wasn't convinced that this, or another jury, would reach a unanimous verdict, so working out a deal was the best his office could hope for.
Other conditions of Buie's deal included no contact, whatsoever with witness and former girlfriend Nicole Brown. Buie will also not be permitted to hold a government job while he serves his nine year probation.