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Former clerk of court offers her side of story

Editor:
    I am writing this brief letter to the editor to tell my side of a story that has been going on since July 2013. On July the 8th I became a criminal defendant. Defendants do not get to say much — you are told you can talk at your trial. So I have kept quiet for six months — anyone who knows me knows how hard that was.
    I have read what they said I did and that was to cash personal checks in public funds. Notice I am not charged with taking cash and leaving nothing. I left a personal check with all the information on it that would enable you to find me.
    This issue came up as a result of an investigation into missing monies in the State Court. I did not work in this Court. I handled no State Court funds. I gave no receipts. I destroyed no tickets.
    During this investigation, an audit was done of the Clerk's Office. In this audit, we were asked if we had ever cashed checks out of the Public Funds. I said yes. I did not know I could not do that. I have been doing it for years. The GBI said no ... it is a criminal offense ... thus I got charged.
    There was no mention of me ever stealing State Court funds. That was an entirely different investigation and yes, monies were stolen from State Court and yes those clerks were charged, they pleaded and were sentenced. I pleaded to mismanagement of funds although I still do not consider cashing checks in Public Funds a crime. I strongly disagreed with having to make any restitution since I stole no money, but that was a part of the negotiated plea and it was all or nothing. So I took the plea.
    This is the entire involvement I had in this. Call me stupid — maybe — but do not call me a criminal.
    Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Clerk of Court for 33 years. It was an honor for me, and I can assure you that I at no time ever used this office to further my financial gain.
    Thank you.
Sherri Akins

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