NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee prosecutors suspended the longtime executive director of their statewide organization Tuesday amid questions about a deal that he orchestrated to help Davidson County DA Glenn Funk boost his state pension.
Members of the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference voted to suspend Wally Kirby without pay for one month following an almost three-hour special meeting. That meeting was called to discuss allegations first uncovered by NewsChannel 5 Investigates.
A letter of reprimand will also be placed in his personnel file, the DA's Conference announced.
"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," said Conference president Garry Brown, a district attorney general from Trenton, in a statement provided to NewsChannel 5.
Kirby's suspension is effective March 1st. (Read the full statement.)
As he left the Conference offices, the former prosecutor defended his actions.
"Do you think you did anything wrong, sir?" NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked.
"No," he insisted.
"Do you think it looks bad," we continued.
"Not to me," he replied.
As for Funk, he ducked into a stairwell and into a waiting car to avoid NewsChannel 5's questions.
The veteran defense attorney won the Democratic primary in May, and he faced no opposition in the August general election.
His term began September 1st, but he discovered that the state was switching to a new pension system on July 1st that required employees to contribute more toward their retirements.
So, just before the deadline, Kirby created a part-time job for him as a district attorney general pro tem -- in other words, a special prosecutor.
Funk wasn't required to report how many hours he actually worked.
But our NewsChannel 5 investigation discovered that Funk continued to take money from criminal suspects to work as a defense lawyer while he waited to take office.
"The members of the Conference were not consulted nor were they made aware of this hiring of Funk as a part-time assistant district attorney while he continued his practice as a defense attorney in apparent conflict" with state law, the statement continued.
Prosecutors have also sent a letter to the Comptroller's Office, notifying them of what "could be viewed as an abuse of public money."
NewsChannel 5 Investigates also discovered that Funk may have improperly arranged for the state to pay for his health insurance two months before he took office.
NC5 Investigates: The DA's Deals