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Nearly $11K missing from Hall clerk of courts office
Traffic fines supervisor fired for violations; GBI is investigating
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Hall County budget

Public hearing: 6 p.m. Tuesday, Georgia Mountains Center; first of three scheduled
Online: www.hallcounty.org/budget

A woman in charge of collecting traffic fines for the Hall County Clerk of Courts Office was fired after nearly $11,000 was discovered missing from her department, a county official said Friday.

Hall County Clerk of Courts Charles Baker, who has previously said little about a Georgia Bureau of Investigation inquiry into his office, told The Times Friday that he fired the supervisor of his traffic violations bureau on June 1 after discovering she had violated office policy.

Baker has not named the employee, but her name is listed as Gail Baugh on a superior court clerks association website.

As soon as Baker discovered money was missing from the traffic violations bureau of his office, he said he placed the employee on administrative leave and contacted the GBI.

"The day I found out about it is the day it got reported," Baker said Friday.

He would not say, however, how he discovered the missing funds.

The GBI has said it opened an investigation into the missing money May 26. It was during that time, Baker said, that he went into the woman's office and discovered "violations of office policy."

The Times has not been able to reach Baugh for comment.

Under Baugh's direction, the traffic violations bureau of the Hall County Clerk of Courts office collected nearly $1.8 million in fines between July 2009 and the end of June 2010, according to data Baker provided.

A large portion of those fines was paid in cash by offenders, Baker said.

A staff accountant watches over money that employees enter into the county's financial database, comparing it and monthly bank statements with daily reports, Baker said.

Money that comes through the clerk's office is audited annually as part of a larger countywide audit by an outside firm. Previously, he said, the annual audits never showed anything unusual.

Baker, who worked alongside Baugh before he became an elected official, has not indicated whether he believes she stole the money. Instead, Baker on Friday referred to the missing $11,000 as cash "we're just unable to locate at this time."

Baker has also not said publicly whether Baugh had ever been reprimanded for policy violations before her termination or if she had provided any explanation for the missing funds before her termination.

The GBI and Hall County District Attorney Lee Darragh have, thus far, stayed mum on the case. Neither a spokesman for the GBI nor Darragh have commented on a timeline of the investigation or whether charges are pending, citing the bureau's ongoing investigation.

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