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Dawson clerk of court indicted in theft
Becky McCord accused of taking more than $140,000
0303INDICTBeckyMcCord
Becky McCord, Dawson County clerk of Superior Court

A grand jury on Monday indicted longtime Dawson County Clerk of Superior Court Becky McCord in connection with more than $140,000 in missing funds.

McCord, 61, has been charged with one count of theft by taking and violation of oath of office.

She was arrested Feb. 11, accused of taking more than $119,000 from the county over the last five years.

Authorities say they have since discovered additional missing funds.

Attorneys for McCord, Bruce Harvey of Atlanta and Jeffery Talley of Gainesville, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

McCord, who has served as clerk of court since 1993, continues to draw her salary, which is about $73,000 annually.

When she refused to resign after her arrest, county attorney Joey Homans filed a petition to remove her from office.
With the indictment, Homans said suspension proceedings can begin.

According to Homans, a copy of the indictment will be sent to the governor who will then appoint a panel of two Georgia clerks of court and the attorney general to review the matter and weigh whether to suspend McCord with pay.

If the panel recommends suspension, McCord can appeal the decision to the governor, whose options would include enforcing it or filing a removal petition.

Homans said neither possibility would affect McCord’s criminal proceedings.

According to the arrest warrant, McCord was entitled to $77,427 of fees paid to her office for issuing passports between 2004-09.

During that same time period, however, investigators say McCord wrote checks to herself on the account totaling more than $205,000.

She turned herself into authorities after Superior Court Judge Lynn Aldermann of the Enotah Judicial Circuit signed a warrant for her arrest.

Superior Court judges in the Northeastern Judicial Circuit, which includes Dawson and Hall counties, recused themselves from the case.

Authorities expanded a probe into missing funds to include McCord after learning Donna Sheriff, chief deputy clerk of court, had written two dozen checks to a former contract worker on an escrow account the local clerks’ office used to hold cash bonds.

According to authorities, Sheriff, 42, is McCord’s niece.

Sheriff and the contract worker, Justin Disharoon, 22, of Dawsonville have reportedly admitted taking nearly $82,000 from the clerk of court’s office.

Each was indicted Monday on a single count of felony theft by taking. Sheriff also faces a violation of oath of office.

Sheriff was fired Jan. 26, according to county employment records.

Elaine Garrett, who was sworn in as chief deputy clerk on Feb. 3 following Sheriff’s dismissal, is acting in McCord’s absence.

The initial investigation led authorities to review an account the clerk of courts office set up with United Community Bank for fees paid to obtain passports.

According to the warrant, McCord told investigators that the passport fees had accrued into a large amount of money since she allowed them to roll over from year to year.

However, authorities say the investigation revealed there were no accrued or rollover funds from the fees taken in from passports between 2004-09.

Investigators continue to review records and bank statements dating back to 2000, when the clerk of court’s office first began processing passports.

McCord is in her fifth term as clerk of courts after running unopposed in 2008.

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