The Braselton Police Department and the Piedmont Circuit District Attorney’s Office continue to compile information on former Braselton Clerk of Court Becky Skelton, who now faces new charges of forgery in the first degree and is accused of allegedly taking about $2,000 in cash bonds.
Skelton was arrested in June, accused of embezzling $15,000 worth of bonds from the town’s municipal court system over the course of a year.
She was asked to resign June 23. Skelton turned herself into the Jackson County Jail the next day following a three-week investigation by the Braselton Police Department into missing bond money.
At the time, Skelton was charged with one count of violating an oath of office by a public official and 14 counts of theft by taking. Her bond was set at $31,000, and she bonded out June 24, according to Maj. David Cochran of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.
Several months after the investigation and arrest, Braselton Police Sgt. Detective J.D. Gille was asked by the Piedmont District Attorney’s office to look further into the charges to get a better understanding of how the bond process works in Braselton.
“I was advised by the DA’s office to look into more evidence not because we didn’t have a strong case, but to have a better understanding of how the town processed bonds from Gwinnett County through the municipal court,” he explained.
Nan Edwards, chief financial officer for Braselton, recently found more records from the municipal court that didn’t match the financial records on file.
“Nan Edwards gave me documentation on March 1 looking at some of the paperwork for some cash bonds from Gwinnett County that were not in our database,” Gille said. “We had additional monies missing — about $2,000.”
In addition, Braselton’s current clerk of court, Dawn Farris, found a court order with what turned out to be a forged signature on it, Gille said.
“I met with the probation officer who confirmed the signature was not hers,” he said.
With this information coming to light, Gille added the new charges to the warrant for Skelton’s arrest and talked with Skelton’s lawyer about the new charges.
“Since she was already charged and arrested (before), the DA’s office asked me to retype the warrant to reflect the new charges,” Gille explained. “I talked to the lawyer at the request of the DA’s office ... and explained to him that I had additional charges for his client, and he said he would have her meet me at the Jackson County Jail.”
A magistrate judge signed the warrants for the new charges March 3, the same day Skelton met with Gille and she was booked.
Once the Braselton Police completes its reports and gives all its information to the DA’s office, the office will review the materials and determine if charges need to be filed.
“Our office’s responsibility is to look at the information and possibly make a charging decision. That hasn’t been done yet, but we will be able to proceed with that once their investigation is complete,” said Greg Wagner, assistant district attorney for the Piedmont Circuit.
The way the charges are filed will determine the next step in the case, Wagner said.
“If charges are brought by accusation or indictment, it would proceed through court system. An accusation would be directly filed with the clerk of court and an indictment would go before the next grand jury,” he explained.