Defending the Indefensible: The Lasseter Legal Defense Fund

You can't make this stuff up -- after Shirley Lasseter pleads guilty to bribery charges, a supporter establishes a legal defense fund for her.

In the aftermath of Shirley Lasseter's pleading guilty to bribery charges, and is soliciting donations. A defense fund for someone who has plead guilty to bribery charges? Apparently, the bribe money is to be replaced with donations, which will also serve as testimony to the concept that if you have enough friends who are both sympathetic and myopic, crime just might pay.

As might be expected, articles referencing establishment of the defense fund have drawn strong reactions from Patch readers. Their comments present a wide range of opinions about Lasseter, her decision to take a bribe and the way she should be dealt with in the future. Although Lasseter is largely condemned for her actions, some of the comments suggest that while her crime isn't justified in the strictest sense of the word, it's understandable because she needed the money.

History has shown that irrespective of the crime, the perpetrator always has supporters, especially if that perpetrator is, or has been, a public figure. The Lasseter case certainly fits that mold. Supporters justify her crime by citing her financial distress, which is said to include a house lost to foreclosure and the lack of funds to repair a vehicle with a gas gauge that doesn't work. What's left unsaid is that county commissioners are paid approximately $30,000 a year; that's not a particularly high annual income, but it's not bad money for a part time job. Surely Lasseter has enough capabilities to secure the type of employment that would boost her total earnings to at least $60,000 a year. Apparently, she either didn't find that an option worth considering, or refused to reduce her living expenses to a level she could afford. Rather than make the necessary lifestyle adjustments, Lasseter chose to sell out for the relatively paltry sum of $35,000.

As a defense, one of her supporters commented that Lasseter isn't a snake in the grass, she's just a victim of hard times. To gain additional perspective on Lasseter's guilt, the supporter suggests we consider, “there are two sides to every story.” That may be true, but the existence of two sides doesn't imply one is right and the other is wrong.  In this instance, side one is that Lasseter needed money; side two is that she had a choice as to the method by which she secured that money. She chose an illegal, rather than legal means.

Attempting to help someone with financial problems is unquestionably a noble pursuit. However, when that pursuit attempts to defend criminal behavior, it becomes ignoble. Shirley Lasseter is no different than the myriad other financially distressed criminals who lie, steal and cheat at the expense of others. Yet those criminals never receive any more consideration than being provided with a public defender. Lasseter is deserving of nothing more. In fact, she deserves less; not only did she commit a crime, she did so while serving as an officer of the county. In so doing, she not only broke the law, she violated the trust of the people who elected her, and became an embarrassment to the citizens. The only saving grace is that she admitted her guilt, rather than attempting to hide behind a charade of innocence.

That may elevate her above “snake-in-the-grass” status, but it doesn't entitle her to special treatment. Nor does it lessen the tarnish she has brought to the county.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

m k June 05, 2012 at 04:42 PM
It becomes our business when donations are being sought! Corruption is corruption and should not be portrayed as just a bad decision!
Tammy Osier June 05, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Dave, totally agree with you. I guess I was saying that it is their right, just as you said, but it is also our right to expose it and let it be known to the public (maybe I should have added that). Personally, when a person has taken bribes, I'd be pretty embarrassed to be among those raising money for her. From the christian perspective, many get this one wrong. Pray for her, give her moral support, and be kind to her (in hopes that she will turn it around) but nowhere does it say defend her actions. In fact, I can show them where it says that you become a party to someone's sin yourself when you do. Forgiveness is one thing, but excusing actions is another. Totally differnent things. I've been poor and without food as well but did not steal. I doubt this woman was without food. It appears that she wanted a more lavish lifestyle without considering that her way of obtaining it is to let a criminal element into my neighborhood and my children's schools.There are much better people out there to serve our community. Let's elect them.
MDC June 10, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Apparently Lasseter has friends who are willing and able to help financially. So why didn't she avail herself of those resources rather than choosing the criminal path. One obvious answer is that she chose her pride over her ethics and morals. We can forgive the sinner without excusing the sin. I also have to wonder about her ethics in appointing her son to the Zoning Board of Appeals. REALLY?!? - does Gwinnett County not have an anti-nepotism policy??? Obviously relying on our elected officials to do the right thing hasn't been working out too well.
Harry Dorfman June 12, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Not quite big enough for an episode on CNBC series Money and Greed, but ya gotta wonder who/what triggered and FBI sting. Seems like going after what appears to be a down on their luck public servant is a little too easy. Yeah appointing her son is a dumb move as is compromising your supposed values and falling for the trap, but it really smells funny...is this to deflect attention from the bigger fish?
YouHaveGotToBeKidding June 13, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Harry i think you are on to something. Shirley appeared to be the most honest Commissioner on the board. The others were very questionable characters


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