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Dawson officials work to remove clerk of court from office
McCord arrested last week in theft of $119,000 from county
Becky McCord

The Dawson County Board of Commissioners voted Friday afternoon to file a petition in Superior Court to remove longtime Clerk of Superior Court Becky McCord from office.

McCord, 61, was arrested Thursday in connection with the theft of more than $119,000 from the county over the last five years.

McCord, who has served as clerk since 1993, faces one count of felony theft by taking.

County officials said last week they anticipated McCord would resign.

When the county did not receive a resignation, the commissioners agreed to have County Attorney Joey Homans file the petition, which county spokeswoman Cathy Brooks said could have been filed by any resident of Dawson County.

Brooks said the civil case could go before a jury as early as this week.

According to the arrest warrant, McCord, as clerk of court, was entitled to $77,427 of fees paid to the clerk of court’s office for issuing passports between 2004 and 2009. 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 Thursday after Superior Court Judge Lynn Aldermann of the Enotah Judicial Circuit signed a warrant for her arrest, Dawson County Sheriff’s Lt. Tony Wooten said.

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

McCord was released on a $50,000 property bond, which played a role in the county commission filing the petition to remove her from office, county officials said.

According to the consent bond, McCord can have no contact with any witnesses in the case, including any employee at the clerk’s office. She also may not go to the courthouse except for business pertaining to her criminal case.

"Because the clerk is unable to perform her job duties under conditions of the consent bond granted in connection with the recent case State of Georgia vs. Becky V. McCord, the board moved forward with the petition to prevent any disruption of services to our taxpayers," Brooks said.

"This action was taken by the board to ensure the fluid operation of the clerk’s office with no interruption of service to the citizens of Dawson County or the judicial system," Brooks said.

The petition states McCord "engaged in acts of misconduct and misbehavior while performing her duties and acting within her capacity of clerk of superior court of Dawson County."

In addition to abandonment of office, the petition also cites McCord’s failure to properly supervise the deputy clerk of court and properly manage the clerk of court bank accounts.

Local authorities expanded a probe into missing funds to include McCord after learning clerk of court employee Donna Sheriff, 42, had written two dozen checks to former contract worker Justin Disharoon, 22, on an escrow account the clerk of court’s office set up to hold cash bonds.

Sheriff and Disharoon, both of Dawsonville, have reportedly admitted taking nearly $82,000 from the clerk of court’s office. Both have been charged with a single count of felony theft by taking.

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

McCord, whose salary is just more than $73,000 annually, continues to draw a paycheck, county officials said.

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