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Brown County starting process to repay money from attorney's donation program

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BROWNWOOD, Texas - Fallout continues in Brown County following Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's opinion about the county attorney's pre-trial diversion program.

Brown County Auditor Jennifer Robison told KTXS on Friday the county will begin the process of repaying the money that Paxton said Brown County Attorney Shane Britton's office took unlawfully using the diversion program.

"It's going to take a lot of time," Robison said on Friday. "It's not something that's going to be solved and fixed in a few months."

The staff attorney for the Texas District and County Attorney's Association provided further clarification into the ruling Paxton issued on Monday.

"The specific statue that allows the county attorney's office to accept gifts or grants or donations may apply in other contexts, like charitable gifts and things like that," Shannon Edmonds said. "But, not in the context of the pre-trial diversion program."

TDCAA represents more than 330 counties, and Edmonds said this situation is a first.

"I don't know if anybody was running a program in the way the Brown County Attorney was doing it," Edmonds said.

KTXS asked the Robison if she's figured out how much money the county will have to repay.

"No, we're not even close to that. It's not a small sum," she said.

From 2001 to 2016 Britton's pre-trial diversion program collected more than $700,000 in fees, according to court documents provided to KTXS.

In terms of what's going to be paid out from that amount, Robison said she doesn't know yet.

"It's going to be a lot of backtracking, extensive research and spreadsheets to get that determined," Robison said.

Robison said she wants to make sure her office does right with the money.

A U.S. Attorney based in Lubbock is looking into the case.

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