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Badge and Bar: Trial date set for Flowery Branch employee accused of theft

POSTED: October 3, 2013 12:19 a.m.

A former Flowery Branch employee is set to go to trial in Hall Superior Court this fall before Judge Kathlene Gosselin.

The case is on Gosselin’s Monday calendar.

Rhonda Lynn Crawford was accused of stealing about $2,000 in city funds and charged with nine counts of computer forgery and 16 counts of misdemeanor theft by taking.

She had worked as a clerk for the Flowery Branch Police Department until August 2012, a little more than a year of employment, city officials said.

According to court records, Crawford altered data on a police computer “by changing the fine amounts on the tickets issued by the police department without authority.”

The missing funds were discovered through a routine audit, city officials said.

In a separate case that was uncovered shortly prior, another municipal employee was accused of stealing about $22,000 from city deposits.

Maria Magana Arevalo, 44, was charged with two counts of felony theft by taking. According to the indictment, Arevalo stole funds on May 23, 2012, and Aug. 16, 2012.

Arevalo pleaded guilty to both theft counts in February.

She handled city taxes, rental of the Historic Train Depot, accounts receivable and business licenses, according to the Flowery Branch website, and Flowery Branch Mayor Mike Miller said she had been with the city for more than five years.

Arevalo was sentenced by Judge Jason Deal to 10 years on probation, under the state’s first-offender guidelines, and ordered to pay $16,577 in restitution to the city and a $1,925 fine.

Other special conditions included 180 days of house arrest, a mental health evaluation and a ban from approaching or contacting Flowery Branch’s city government or municipal court.

If all the conditions are met, the last five years of probation may be waived, the judgement states.

She was also ordered to write a letter of apology to Flowery Branch Chief of Police David Spillers.

Drive to benefit burn survivors, fire prevention

Hall County Fire Services is urging residents to donate during the 24th statewide “Give Burns the Boot” drive, benefiting the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation.

Today through the end of the month, firefighters will be at locations throughout the county every Friday to collect money for the foundation’s largest annual fundraiser, Fire Marshal Scott Cagle said.

The foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides fire prevention education, supports medical facilities and assists recovering burn survivors.

One of the activities made possible by Boot Drive proceeds is “Camp Oo-U-La,” Georgia’s only camp exclusively for burn-injured children, paid for entirely by the foundation.

The foundation returns 10 percent of the department’s total dollar amount raised to the department for fire safety and burn prevention efforts.

For those who may not see a firefighter this weekend, Cagle directed potential donors to the Virtual Boot Drive, new this year.

Individuals and businesses can donate online on Hall County’s behalf at www.giveburnstheboot.org/hallcounty.
Last year, the department was recognized as the fourth-largest fundraiser in the state, raising more than $51,000.

Emma Witman covers public safety issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with her:

ewitman@gainesvilletimes.com

facebook.com/timesemmawitman

@EmmaWTimes


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