An audit of the Glynn County Superior Court Clerk’s Office aiming to find out exactly how much money is missing and where it went is still ongoing, Superior Court Clerk Ron Adams said.
“The Clerk’s Office continues to search for discrepancies in the previous handling of financial matters in the office,” Adams said in an email Monday.
An initial estimate put the amount at around $74,000, but a subsequent audit by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation put the missing amount at over $673,000. Glynn County agreed to pay for a more in-depth audit in January after multiple requests from Adams to do so.
Adams and deputy clerk Maria Jacobs have been assisting the auditor where they, making transactions they believe are suspect and reporting them to the auditor, Beth Grimes with Bates, Carter and Co.
“As we discover suspicious activity, we report those matters to both the forensic auditor, Beth Grimes, and to law enforcement. We continue to find additional methods by which funds are missing. As recently as last week we discovered another significant scheme. These new layers of activity will extend the time necessary to thoroughly complete the audit,” Adams said in the email.
While the audit is still underway, Adams did say that the total amount of missing money may be even higher than the GBI’s estimate. This may be due to the fact that Adams’ audit is looking at a longer period of time. GBI auditors only looked at transactions from 2011 to 2014, when the missing money was reported by former clerk Darren Jones.
Grimes is looking at records all the way up to the end of 2016 and as far back as 2008, which is the earliest Adams and Jacobs have found suspicious transactions so far. The Glynn County Commission approved Adams’ request to extend the audited years back to 2008 in March, which he said was a wise decision.
According to county officials, much of the missing money came from someone in the clerk’s office moving money between accounts, which is illegal. Allegedly, money from child support payments was taken in but not deposited. Instead, cash from other accounts reserved for court settlements, bail, etc. were moved into the child support account and the original child support payments were pocketed.
County officials have already discussed methods to replace the missing funds. County Attorney Aaron Mumford told commissioners at a meeting in March that the county commission could potentially call on $850,000 in insurance and bonds. Whether or not the county would be able to use all of the funds for that purpose would need to be investigated further, however.
Currently, the decision of whether or not to prosecute anyone rests with the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia. The council has yet to prosecute anyone in relation to the missing money.