Suspect arrested in missing tax office funds

Published 11:08 pm Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tami Delores Barineau was arrested Tuesday afternoon on the charge of theft by taking (fiduciary) for the theft of more than $40,000 dollars in cash and checks from the Decatur County Tax Commissioner’s Office.

The Post-Searchlight was informed Tuesday afternoon that Barineau still had not been found and might have left town, according to Georgia Bureau of Investigations Special Agent in Charge Steve Turner.

Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin said the GBI called Barineau Tuesday afternoon and told her warrants had been assigned for her arrest.

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Barineau turned herself in at approximately 2 p.m. and was booked at the Decatur County jail at 5:10 p.m.

“She did turn herself in after lunch yesterday,” Griffin said. “Once she was processed and booked, she bonded out.”

The judge set the bond at $11,700 and Barineau was released at 8:45 p.m.

During GBI’s investigation, it was discovered that the moneybag containing $3,478.38 in cash and $37,168.98 in checks, was stolen from the vault in the tax commissioners office Friday afternoon, according to Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin.
Details surrounding the theft cannot be revealed until Barineau’s court date, Turner said.
Tuesday morning during the Decatur County Commissioner’s meeting, Griffin said only a small portion of the stolen cash remains. He doesn’t believe any of the checks will be recovered.
“It’s part of the investigation, but we believe they have been destroyed,” Griffin said.
At the meeting, when Commissioner Butch Mosley asked if Decatur County Tax Commissioner Don Belcher’s office followed the Decatur County cash management procedures, Belcher said he had never read them before. When asked if he had ever been given a copy of the procedures, Belcher said he did not remember.
“It seems to me that there is lack in that office of making the security of the funds a priority,” County Commissioner Dennis Brinson said. “That seems like it’s a problem to me, because those funds are very important. Losing $40,000 is very important to that office and this county.”
Mosley said the case was a very serious matter because it involves public trust.
“Whether it’s a dime or a million dollars, it’s a violation of trust,” he said. “Not following proper procedure, including common sense, should not be tolerated.”
Belcher confirmed Barineau was fired from the office following the incident.
Commissioner Russell Smith noted they could not tell Belcher what disciplinary action to take on any of his employees because Belcher is a constitutional officer.
However, he encouraged him to deal with the situation promptly and aggressively with his staff.
Belcher said a letter was sent to residents whose property tax checks were destroyed after the theft. Showing the letter to their banks will allow them to cancel the stolen checks.