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Former bank manager charged with theft
BRKJ Stewart Mug Shot

A longtime Dawsonville resident and former bank manager in Forsyth County faces multiple felony charges in connection with $28,000 that went missing, according to authorities.

Deborah Martin-Stewart, 56, has been charged with theft by taking of $28,000 from First Citizens Bank of Georgia in Forsyth County, three counts of third-degree forgery, three counts of financial identity fraud, and one count each of computer theft, computer trespass and computer forgery.

Seven days after warrants were issued for her arrest, on May 21, Martin-Stewart turned herself in to Forsyth County authorities.

A four-month investigation alleges that Stewart took $28,000 between October and December 2012.

Additionally, "in an attempt to conceal her theft, Stewart had entered/deleted vast amounts of fraudulent data into the computerized banking records and forged the financial documents of several customers," according to Forsyth County Investigator Frank Karic.

Bond originally was set at $70,900; however, a bond hearing shortly after her arrest resulted in a reduction to $57,000, according to her attorney, Ben Bagwell. He said she spent one night in jail and was released.

"We deny all charges," Bagwell said. "We maintain her innocence. We don't know the specifics of the charges against her. They seem to be very technical charges."

Bagwell confirmed Stewart was working as the manager of First Citizen Bank of Georgia's Cumming branch located on Bethelview Road.

First Citizens Bank of Georgia has two locations in Dawsonville and Cumming.

Stewart worked at the First Citizens Bank of Georgia in Dawsonville from 2007 until she was moved to Cumming in 2012, according to Mike Berg, who serves on the bank's board of directors.

"It's unfortunate," Berg said. "As soon as we found out about it, we turned it over to the Forsyth authorities."

Bank officials were alerted by a teller at the Bethelview branch.

"One morning, one of the other tellers called the main branch because she came up short on a cash count," Karic said. "Officials from the main branch came down and found a shortage of several thousand dollars. The next day, they had an outside accounting firm come in, and they found the shortage was even higher."

On Jan. 4, 2013, Charles Buckner, president of First Citizens Bank of Georgia, filed an incident report of theft after the cash count of Stewart's drawers revealed a substantial shortage at the branch, according to Karic.

On May 14, 2013, 10 felony arrest warrants were issued.

Bucker issued a statement during a phone call on May 21.

"This is the result of a financial discrepancy discovered during the routine internal review process at the bank's Forsyth office," Buckner said. "Once the discrepancy was discovered, the case was turned over to the Forsyth County Sheriff's Department for investigation."

Buckner added that the identity of the banks customers is safe and has not been compromised.

As manager at the bank, Stewart had access to an ATM machine and the vault, Karic said.

"She ran the branch of the bank, and she had a lot of responsibility there," Bagwell said on May 27. "I'm planning to meet with my client again Tuesday or Wednesday."

A hearing date is scheduled for June 11 at the Magistrate Court in Forsyth County.

Stewart owned property in Dawson County, starting in April 1985 and ending with the sale of a $300,000 parcel in April 2005, according to the Dawson County Tax Assessors' Office.