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VOL. 39 | NO. 8 | Friday, February 20, 2015

Tennessee prosecutors group suspends longtime director

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NASHVILLE (AP) - Tennessee prosecutors have suspended their longtime executive director following allegations that he orchestrated a deal to help Nashville's district attorney boost his pension.

WTVF-TV (http://bit.ly/1LDT0hg) reports that the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference voted to suspend executive director Wally Kirby for one month without pay after a three-hour meeting. The District Attorneys General Conference gives advice to district attorneys around the state.

"As a result of that meeting, the conference members have decided on a course of action we believe necessary to uphold the heightened standards of integrity and openness the public expects - and should receive - from its state prosecutors at all times," conference president Garry Brown said in a statement. Brown is also the district attorney general in Crockett, Gibson and Haywood counties.

The suspension comes after r evelations that Davidson County District Attorney General Glenn Funk was allowed to take a position as a part-time prosecutor at the conference before he was sworn in as Nashville's district attorney in September. Funk was a criminal defense attorney in private practice at the time. Had he waited to get on the pension plan after he was sworn in as Nashville's top prosecutor, Funk would be allowed to get on the state pension but only under the new system. The state on July 1 switched to a new pension system, which required employees to contribute more toward their retirement plans.

The conference has said Kirby created a part-time job for Funk so Funk could get the more favorable pension deal.

Kirby told the news station that he did not do anything wrong and he did not think it looked bad.

"The conference offered me a job and I did the job," Funk told The Associated Press. "I worked within the system."

The conference issued a statement saying its member s were not consulted or made aware that Kirby had given Funk a part-time job as a special prosecutor. The statement raised the possibility that it was a violation of state law for Funk to be both a criminal defense attorney and a special prosecutor.

The conference notified the Board of Professional Responsibility, which disciplines lawyers. It also wrote a letter to the comptroller saying that what was done "could be viewed as an abuse of public money."

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