Georgia Bureau of Investigations agents are still reviewing documents seized in August from the Bulloch County Clerk of Courts office, but no specific crime has yet been determined, said Statesboro GBI Special Agent-in-Charge Micah Ward.
A tip from an anonymous source about "possible misappropriation of funds" led to the seizure of boxes and boxes of documents in August, after agents conducting an investigation found reason enough for further review, he said. However, no charges have been filed, no suspects have been identified and no evidence of any specific crime has been found.
The GBI Financial Investigations Unit from Atlanta is reviewing the documents, but due to a backlog of work, there has been little progress in the case, Ward said. "Due to the volume of paperwork, and a backlog - it takes a while" to complete such an investigation, he said.
Agents are seeking "any type of evidence of financial inappropriateness," he said. Back in August "we received enough information that we needed to act.
However, Ward still cannot divulge details on what kind of information GBI agents received, because the investigation is ongoing, he said.
In late August, GBI agents executed a search warrant at the Bulloch County Clerk of Courts Office in the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit Annex, spending an entire day gathering records and data from a specific area of the clerk's office. The investigation centers around the fees and fines records; one of the many duties of the Bulloch County Clerk of Courts office is handling traffic and other fines for the Georgia State Patrol, Georgia Southern University and Bulloch County Sheriff's Department. The office also handles monies seized in drug raids.
Bulloch County Clerk of Court Teresa Tucker said the clerks' office handles over $3 million annually. Neither she, or former clerk Sherri Akins, or any specific employee of the office has been identified as a suspect in any crime, Ward said.
The clerk's office handles civil suits, files adoption records, liens, real estate deeds, criminal felony and misdemeanor records, juvenile court records, notary public records, UCC's (loans secured with farm equipment, boats or other non-fixed collateral).
Also, military discharges, passports, warrants for arrests, and tickets from the Georgia State Patrol, Bulloch County Sheriff's Department, Georgia Southern University Police, Department of Natural Resources and Department of Transportation.
Over the course of the past year, the Bulloch County Clerk's Office has handled about $3,268,177, not counting money seized in drug raids. Tucker said.
Over the past year, the office has handled $1,014,779 in civil filing fees; $632,686 in state court fines; $1,047, 237 in state court partial payments ( on probation fees, etc.); $255,184 in Superior Court partial payments, and $318, 291 in garnishments, she said.
Ward said there is no estimated time of completion for the investigation, reiterating that the backlog of other duties for the agents involved is a deciding factor on how long the investigation will take.
Holli Deal Bragg maybe reached at 912-489-9414.