Friday, January 5, 2001

New clerk is sworn into office


Coweta's County's seach for a clerk of the Superior Court came to a temporary end this week when deputy Clerk Cindy Brown was appointed to the position.

The position became open after last week's stunning development that saw newly elected Clerk Mary Jane Thompson plead guilty to one count of theft by conversion and one count of violating her oath of office.

Thompson was sentenced to five years probation and fined $18,384 for the theft scandal that rocked the clerk's office earlier this year.

Thompson, who worked in the clerk's office before she was elected, was indicted on 18 counts, including 13 charges of theft by conversion, four altering public records counts and a violation of oath of office charge.

Coweta District Attorney Pete Skandalakis began his investigation into the clerk's office last February after Clerk of Court Joan Griffies reported missing funds from her office.

"The very next day I referred the matter to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. I have steadfastly maintained that politics, primaries and elections were of no concern to me," he said.

Thompson was indicted for allegedly converting more than $8,300 of court funds to her own private use while employed at the clerk's office.

Thompson resigned from her position last spring and successfully beat Griffies for the clerk's job in last July's election.

Griffies has maintained that politics has played no role in the matter and that she merely wanted to find out where the money went.

Skandalakis received a report from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in October and determined there was enough evidence to take it to the Coweta County Grand Jury.

After Brown was appointed, Probate Judge Mary Cranford announced a special election will be conducted in March to fill the position. Griffies has not announced whether she will run for the position.

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