Ex-Paulding County DA pleads guilty to unprofessional conduct

Donald Richard "Dick" Donovan  (Paulding County Sheriff's Office)

The former district attorney for Paulding County pleaded guilty to unprofessional conduct and was sentenced to a year probation Thursday morning.

Attorney General Chris Carr announced that Donald Richard "Dick" Donovan's guilty plea in a statement, saying that Donovan is required to surrender his license to practice law and has resigned from his position.


Donovan had been suspended from the position since February 2021, when a grand jury indicted him on four felony charges including bribery and making false statements.

According to officials, Donovan sought to drop criminal charges against a client of the Cedartown Municipal Court prosecutor to curry favor in order to have charges dropped for one of his employees with whom he said he desired a sexual relationship.

The indictments also stated Donovan made false statements in an affidavit when asked if he "wanted to have sex with this same employee of his office and denied describing fantasies regarding his desire to be physical with this employee."

In addition to the bribery and false swearing charges, Donovan faced two counts of violation of oath by a public officer.

Thursday, Donovan pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of unprofessional conduct by engaging in malpractice, misfeasance, or malfeasance in office.

"As independently-elected public servants, Georgia's district attorneys must fulfill their solemn obligation to uphold the rule of law no matter the circumstance," Carr said in a statement. "When these same individuals abuse their power with complete disregard for their sworn duties, they harm the very justice system they are put in place to defend and protect. We will not hesitate to hold accountable public officials who violate the law and their oaths of office and hope this case sends a message that public corruption of any kind will not be tolerated here in Georgia."

Donovan has been the district attorney in Paulding County since 2010.