DA responds to letter

The money within the District Attorney fund is not my money, nor did that money belong to Mr. Rountree. It belongs to the people of Blount County. As elected officials, we are merely stewards of those funds. Facts are facts. As incoming District Attorney, I had a duty to review the finances of the office. And, I did that. In Mr. Rountree’s last seven months in office, he approved law enforcement expenditures and employee raises/supplements that cost the District Attorney’s Office over $170,000. Mr. Rountree spent in seven months more than he had spent in six years on law enforcement and employee raises/supplements.

The thousands given to law enforcement referenced actually totaled approximately $127,756 – these purchases were dispersed after the June primary in which Mr. Rountree lost.

In addition, Mr. Rountree gave away another $23,000 to his employees in November 2010, indicating it was salary supplements. Four employees received checks for $5,000 each. Two other employees received a check for $1,000 and $2,000. This $23,000 dispersed in November does not take into account the raises that Mr. Rountree gave in June 2010. In June 2010, all employees, except for one, received a $5,000 annual raise. The remaining employee was given an annual raise totaling approximately $14,916. That employee also received close to $10,000 on June 29, 2010, in addition to his regular salary because Mr. Rountree made the $14,916 raise retroactive to October 2009.

While $287,000 remains in the District Attorney’s accounts, our office will need every penny of that money to make our budget of over $600,000 this fiscal year. Last year, district attorneys across the state faced 18 percent proration. Many district attorneys had to reduce salaries and vacate positions because of the lack of funding. We are also looking at proration again this year. No doubt the $170,000 spent in the last seven months would go a long way in meeting the financial burden our office is facing in the future. This week I met with the State Auditor and asked him to conduct an audit of the expenditures of the District Attorney’s Office. At this point, any investigation is in the hands of the State Auditors and then the Attorney General as it should be under the law.

I took an oath on January 16, 2011, to uphold the laws of our state’s Constitution – and that is what I intend to do as District Attorney. Since taking office, I have worked every day but one (Sunday). I have spent on average 12 hours a day in the office, many times working until 1 a.m. I have been out with law enforcement until 2 a.m. in the morning executing a search warrant. In just two short weeks, our successes are underway. For example, I am in the final stages of securing a grant for the county to institute a ZeroMeth campaign in our schools, and last week the office recovered $20,000 for a local business. Prior to taking office, I conducted a workshop for local businesses regarding worthless checks and held a meeting with all our local law enforcement. My office is always open. If I can ever be of service to you, please do not hesitate to come by or to call me (205) 625-4171. I love the work that you, the people of Blount County, have elected me to do – and I look forward to serving you in the years to come

– Pamela Casey

District Attorney, Blount County