Authorities say a former longtime clerk took thousands of dollars from Dawson County Probate Court.
Julie Honea was fired Oct. 19 following an internal audit into the missing funds, said Probate Judge Jennifer Burt.
“I expected something wasn’t right, and as soon as I found out there was a problem, I terminated her immediately and turned it over to the sheriff’s office,” Burt said. “This was something I was not going to tolerate.”
Honea, 50, of Dawsonville had been clerk of probate court since March 1999 and worked for the county since 1997.
She was charged Tuesday morning with one count of felony theft by taking, according to an arrest warrant. She turned herself in a short time later.
Dawson County Sheriff’s Lt. Tony Wooten said about $6,400 is missing.
“At this point, we don’t expect any further charges,” said Wooten, adding that Honea was working with an attorney to “clear up this matter.”
Sheriff’s Maj. John Cagle said Honea had been taking cash paid to the court on traffic tickets for nearly two years.
Burt described the situation as heartbreaking and devastating.
“When you hire somebody, you have to be able to trust them,” she said. “It’s hard to believe someone you trusted could do anything like this.”
According to a sheriff’s report detailing the situation, the thefts date back to January 2008.
Honea reportedly took the cash drivers paid to settle traffic violations and then processed the guilty plea tickets as if the fines had been suspended.
“We have no reason to believe this will affect anyone who paid a ticket in the court,” Wooten said. “The dispositions have been recorded and filed with the state. She was just pocketing the cash.”
Dawson County has seen its share of employee theft over the years. In 2006, a Family Connection employee was charged with taking more than $16,000 from the social service agency.
Mike Berg, chairman of the Dawson County commission and a Family Connection board member, said the probate court situation is more serious.
“It’s a bigger deal, because it’s judicial,” he said. “She’s stealing from the people.”