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Panel signs off on reimbursement of $294K in fees, expenses in legal defense of Murphy Painter


BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — A special panel has signed off on state reimbursement of $294,054 in fees and expenses associated with the legal defense of Murphy Painter.

Painter, the former state Alcohol and Tobacco Control commissioner, was prosecuted and found not guilty of using law enforcement databases to look up information about people who were not under investigation.

The Advocate reports ( ) the Attorney Fee Review Board on Monday ruled the bills submitted by attorneys who successfully defended Painter against the federal charges were "reasonable" and were not in excess of set hourly rates.

A relieved Painter said after the meeting, "We didn't want anything that we did not pay for or hadn't been billed."

The board action also clears the way for Painter to seek reimbursement of the $180,000 he's paid, as well as other bills that have not yet been paid in connection with his defense.

A federal District Court jury in December unanimously acquitted Painter of 29 counts of computer fraud and false statements to the FBI.

Painter had been accused of using confidential law enforcement databases to look up information on people who were not tied to any criminal investigations. He also was alleged in his indictment to have falsely told the FBI that all of the searches were for criminal justice purposes.

Painter said he had done nothing wrong and that someone had tampered with his computer. He also said five members of his staff had access to his office, computer and password.

Information from: The Advocate,

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