Soon to be Georgia’s new DA, Anita Reynolds Howard questioned the distribution of $5 million of seized gambling funds by current DA David Cooke in September. Howard filed a court motion and cited Georgia Law outlining that a defeated DA cannot disburse forfeiture funds.
Incoming Georgia DA Files a Court Motion against Outgoing DA
Georgia’s incoming district attorney has filed a court motion aiming at stopping the outgoing DA from sending millions of dollars from seized gambling raids. Anita Reynolds Howard is soon going to be the new district attorney in the Macon Judicial Circuit. The motion which she filed is against the outgoing District Attorney David Cooke. In an interview for WMAZ-TV, Howard said that allegedly Cooke’s office distributed illegally more than $5 million in September. According to her, some part of the funds had to stay with Bibb, Peach, and Crawford counties.
Back in June, in the DA race, Howard won against Cooke by receiving roughly 76% of the votes. With that in mind, it is unlikely that Howard will have any opposition in November. According to her, the handing out of the money to other countries by Cooke may be a retaliation move triggered because of the win.
Howard based her statements on Georgia Law, referring to “Disposition of forfeited property”. The text reads that when a DA has been defeated in an election “he or she shall not transfer any currency or property received due to civil forfeiture proceedings to any other entity prior to leaving office”. Moreover, the incoming DA has notified the agencies which received the funds about the court motion.
No Money Distributed for Macon Judicial Circuit
On September 21, money from a gambling raid in July 2019 was signed by a Bibb County judge for distribution across multiple law enforcement agencies and judicial circuits. But Howard uncovered that no money was distributed for Macon Judicial Circuit which comprises of Bibb, Crawford, and Peach counties. In other words, the Macon Judicial Circuit where Cooke’s DA office is, received no funds.
“That was done in bad faith because I don’t understand how the Bibb County DA’s office is paying the attorneys for the labor. We’ve been raised with the idea of you get the fruits of your labor,”Anita Reynolds Howard
Furthermore, Howard added that it remains unknown why the resources which Bibb County invested were not repaid with September’s funds disbursement. In contrast, back in February this year, 55% of the seized funds or $3 million were received by the Macon Judicial Circuit.
Responding on the accusations, David Cooke wrote a statement that reads: “Had Ms. Howard bothered to reach out to the attorneys involved in this case before attacking the judge’s order, she would have learned that the order was correct and that the first three million dollars from this case went directly to the DA’s office for the benefit of our community.” Cooke stressed that Howard smeared the very office that she is about to lead by deciding to “play politics”. In conclusion, he said that the interests of Middle Georgia families should be the focus of the DA and not scoring political points.