CHATSWORTH, Ga. — The Murray County Probate Court employee at the center of a Georgia Bureau of Investigation inquiry into missing money has been placed on indefinite paid leave, according to Probate Judge John Waters.
Waters said he would not release the employee’s name while the case is under investigation.
GBI agents along with members of the Murray County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office searched the Probate Court offices last week.
“That was the first time I knew that there was an investigation,” Waters said.
The investigation began last year with a request from District Attorney Bert Poston. Saying he did not want to talk about evidence while the investigation is ongoing, Poston declined to discuss why he requested the GBI to look into the Probate Court. A GBI special agent said an update of the court’s computer software triggered the investigation.
“The company that provides the software to the county was getting ready to do some updates,” Special Agent Greg Ramey said. “They were looking at ways to improve the way they were doing things, and they started noticing some improprieties. As they looked into it closer, they found that it was just one particular individual. They alerted us. We looked at it, discussed it with them and were able to put what we call a trigger on it. It notified them when that individual was doing something inappropriate in there.”
“Both the current and former Probate judges were shocked at what had been happening, and they have both been very cooperative,” Ramey said.
The search came about a year after the initial allegations were brought to the GBI’s attention.
“Unfortunately, there are 159 counties in Georgia, and our financial investigative unit has a limited number of people,” Ramey said. “When we initially gathered records and took the records to them, it took them a while to get to us. They are still not through with the case. But we did have a mechanism in place to allow us to continue to track what was going on there.”
Ramey said the investigation is still focusing on one employee. He said he could not reveal that employee’s name while the investigation is still underway.
Waters, who took office on Jan. 1, says the GBI did not tell him how much money is involved.
Former Probate judge Dale Adams said the GBI informed him of the investigation but did not give him much information.
“We had just a brief conversation letting me know there was an investigation,” he said.
Waters said the staff in the court are “a family.”
“We want to support our family member in this, and we hope that she is proved innocent and can come back and be with us,” he said.