Board of Commissioners asked to adhere to defense resolution

Published 7:55 pm Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Attorney Jami L. Lewis spoke to the Decatur County Board of Commissioners Tuesday requesting they agree to pay for legal expenses for her client, pursuant to a resolution the commission agreed to at the Aug. 26 meeting.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation released warrants Sept. 15 for the arrest Lewis’ client, Bainbridge resident Rachel Trolinger, for forgery in the first degree. Trolinger, formerly an administrative assistant at the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office, allegedly committed the crime while performing the duties of her job on Sept. 30, 2013.

The invoice Lewis submitted for Trolinger’s legal counsel was $5,000.

“I would personally recommend we do not pay this $5,000,” Decatur County Commission Chairman Frank Loeffler said. “She’s been charged with forgery in the first degree and she’s been let go from her job. I think this is a long way from that resolution we passed.”

Lewis countered that information regarding Trolinger being let go was “absolutely false” and said she had resigned for completely unrelated reasons to the case. She was employed from June 21, 2010, to June 12, 2014, under the direct supervision of Captain Elizabeth Croley.

“Per the Decatur County Board of Commissioners’ August 26, 2014, resolution authorizing the county funding the attorney’s fees for county employees involved in litigation arising out of the exercise of their duties through their employment, and based upon the reasoning for that resolution that has been promulgated by the commissioners through said resolution as well as in the media, in addition to the fact that the county has recently authorized the funding for attorney’s fees to be paid in the defense of three federally indicted employees of the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office, Mrs. Trolinger is requesting that the county pay for all legal expenses incurred by her in defense of this criminal action,” read a letter Lewis submitted to the Board of Commissioners.

The resolution’s wording states Decatur County, “in it’s discretion,” will undertake the expenses to defend Decatur County employees in civil, criminal or quasi criminal actions arising from the duties of their job.

“(In it’s discretion) means the commission is not obligated or bound defense for every situation,” Decatur County attorney Brown Moseley said. “They can be evaluated on an individual basis.”

At the July 22 County Commission meeting, the state statute that Brown relied contained similar “discretion” language, but he said the county was obligated to pay for the indicted DCSO employees.

Lewis quoted Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin, who said in July he was confident his three indicted employees and son, Wiley Griffin, IV, would be exonerated.

“I am likewise confident Mrs. Trolinger will be exonerated,” she said. “Let me assure you that Mrs. Trolinger is absolutely not guilty of this crime that she’s been charged with. This is a bogus charge the she intends to fight. She’s a mother a wife and a hard worker and she was a valued employee of the sheriff’s office. But what she is not is a criminal.”

The Board of Commissioners voted to make a decision at the Tuesday, Oct. 28, meeting, and in the meantime asked Lewis to submit more information from the case.