Details emerge in case of $40,000 missing from Decatur County Tax Office

Published 12:40 am Saturday, November 9, 2013

Police are still investigating details surrounding a large sum of money that went missing Monday morning from the Decatur County Tax Commissioner’s Office.
More than $40,000 in property tax payments, both cash and checks, disappeared and the case has now been turned over from the Decatur County Sheriff’s Department to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
“All I can say is we are investigating the location of the missing money,” said GBI Special Agent in Charge Steve Turner. “We will be interviewing anyone who had come in contact with the money as well as looking at the books to see exactly how much money is missing.”
Turner could not confirm whether GBI has any leads or suspects in the case.
The tax commission’s office, located on the first floor of the County Courthouse, has no camera security or security officers that walk through that area.
Decatur County Tax Commissioner Don Belcher said he was going to make sure that changed moving forward.
“I sure hope this event gets us some cameras and a Decatur County deputy,” Belcher said. “I’ve been suggesting it for a while, but nobody has done anything. I’m going to really push it now.”
Belcher claims the money disappeared prior to 8 a.m. when the courthouse opens to the public.
Before the offices opened at 8 a.m., a clerk in the accounting department withdrew Friday’s moneybags from a vault to prepare them for deposit. She left the bags in her chair, pushed it underneath her desk and walked across the street for breakfast. She was back before the building opened to the public, Belcher said.
“At the end of the day, we put all bags in the vault,” Belcher said. “We deposit money everyday. Friday morning we deposit Thursday’s money.”
Based on that process, Belcher admitted they were a day behind, still in possession of the more than $40,000 from the Thursday and Friday before.
When the clerk began counting the money, she realized a bag containing Friday’s property tax collections was missing, Belcher said.
Belcher contacted the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the missing money.
The deposit bag contained a total of $3,347.38 in cash and $37,161.98 in checks according to police report.
The case was turned over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations earlier this week.

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