Theft Safeguards Put Into Place - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

02/24/05 - Nacogdoches

Theft Safeguards Put Into Place

by Donna McCollum

A rash of felony theft charges of county employees prompted change in at least one Nacogdoches County office.

Longtime Precinct Two JP Clerk Carla Sparks would pocket cash payments. She protected herself by putting in the computer that the defendant served community service or jail time. It took two years for her to get caught. By then she had stolen over $65,000.

That's why now, if you need to pay a fine in Judge Dorothy Tigner Thompson's court, don't take cash. Checks and money orders are all Judge Thompson will accept. "It's not possible to keep a payment with a check or money order. We make sure the person paying the fine gets a receipt so they also have a paper trail they can bring that back in if something happens."

Thompson didn't stop there. Neither did Auditor Clara Flores. "She's also making much closer reviews of daily deposit reports and our auditor's office looks more closely at all the reports, not only for the her office, but for all the JP's," said Flores.

Other JP's continue to accept cash because of its convenience factor. But should a theft occur, others will be inconvenienced. It took months to investigate the Sparks case. Flores pointed out, "In this day and age there are so many locations to buy money orders that it is pretty easy."

It's been difficult for the judge coping with losing a trusted employee overcome by temptation. Thompson grew up with Sparks. "We were all close and not judging anyone. We all have been praying and been prayerful for everyone involved," shared Thompson.

She's also helping by putting policies into place that will hopefully keep the honest from turning dishonest.

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