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Officials wont comment on missing court clerk funds
Baker says he will hold all comments until the GBI finishes its inquiry
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Officials won't say how soon they plan to wrap-up an investigation into missing money at the Hall County Clerk of Courts office.

And the elected official who fired an employee in his office for policy violations two weeks ago won't give much detail either until the Georgia Bureau of Investigation finishes its job.

Hall County Clerk of Court Charles Baker would not say Thursday when or how he first discovered money was missing from his office, nor would he say how much officials thought might have been stolen.

Baker fired the supervisor of his traffic violations bureau nearly two weeks ago.

Though Baker refused to name the employee, a website for the Superior Court Clerks Association lists her as Gail Baugh.

Baugh could not be reached 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, though Baker could not immediately say how much.

"To break it down and find out the cash, I would have to generate several new reports," Baker said. "I just can't do that right now."

Baker said money that comes through his office is audited annually by an outside firm. Previously, he said, those audits never showed anything unusual.

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

Baker, who worked alongside Baugh before he became an elected official, would not discuss whether Baugh had ever been reprimanded for policy violations before her termination or if she had provided any explanation for the missing funds.

Baker said he would hold all comments on Baugh's employment and the missing money until the GBI finished its inquiry.

"Everybody's got the presumption of innocence until proven guilty," Baker said. "That's why I don't want to speak out with the GBI's ongoing investigation."

And a spokesman for the GBI said Thursday there's no telling how long the investigation could last. All John Bankhead, the bureau's public information officer, would say, is that the bureau had been asked to investigate by Hall County's district attorney. The case was opened May 26.

Lee Darragh, who asked for the investigation, wouldn't say, either, whether he expected charges to be filed at the end of the investigation.

"In my experience, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation does and will do a thorough job," Darragh said in an email Thursday. "Charges will be filed if the investigation determines that they are justified and can be proven."

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