Education

More News | |

Superintendent defends decision not to prosecute

Glenn Hills bookkeeper stole $14,400

  • Follow Education

Richmond County's school superintendent and the district attorney are defending their decision not to seek prosecution of a Glenn Hills High School bookkeeper who stole $14,400 in student activities funds.

"It is the victim's decision of whether to file ... and we're the victim," said Superintendent Dana Bedden.

District Attorney Ashley Wright, who honored the school system's request to not prosecute, said she was contacted a few weeks ago by school safety Lt. Richard Roundtree, who told her the bookkeeper, Bridgette Thompkins, had agreed to pay restitution -- something Wright said is rare without prosecution.

"There also was a goal of getting the money back as quickly as possible, especially since it could directly affect the students," she wrote in an e-mail.

Wright said that although she wasn't aware of the specifics of the case, she was sure the school system had good reason to offer a deal.

"We would honor those reasons in the absence of something that would lead us to do otherwise," Wright said, adding, "If they made a decision, they would have had reasons to do so."

Some area law enforcement officials, though, said it's not solely up to the victim to determine whether charges should be filed.

"Just because (victims) sign a waiver doesn't mean charges won't be filed," said Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris. "It's on a case-by-case basis. In most cases, when the school system calls us and/or alerts us to a crime that crime is investigated and prosecuted accordingly."

Richmond County sheriff's Maj. Ken Autry said victims' wishes are taken into account but aren't necessarily a deciding factor.

"I'm not second-guessing them," he said, adding that he wasn't aware of all the details in the Glenn Hills case, "but I have seen nothing that would have made us not prosecute. I just can't believe that (the district attorney's office) would say not to prosecute unless they saw something."

Had a deal not been struck, law enforcement authorities say the case would have constituted at least a felony theft by taking charge, which carries a punishment of one to 10 years in jail upon conviction.

Although the case didn't go through the sheriff's office, Bedden reiterated that it was reported to the county's school safety office, a sworn law enforcement department with arresting powers and the authority to file charges in court. Autry said the school safety department often handles its own cases and typically calls the sheriff's office in only as backup.

Columbia County has a memorandum of understanding that requires any crime committed at a school to be reported to the sheriff's office, Morris said. He recalled a 2004 case in which a former president of the Lakeside High School Band Booster Club was charged with felony theft by taking after being accused of stealing more than $12,000. The incident was reported after an audit by the Columbia County Board of Education.

Bedden didn't immediately respond Thursday to a phone message and e-mail asking whether he had consulted school board members before the decision to not prosecute. Board member Frank Dolan said he was informed after the fact.

"I would like to have been more in the loop, but I'm satisfied that what we did was right," Dolan said.

In the future, he said, he would hope to be informed before any similar decisions.

Comments (60) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 06/17/10 - 06:08 pm
0
0
Bedden says the school system

Bedden says the school system is the victim. But aren't the children and parents of these children victims too?

disssman
6
Points
disssman 06/17/10 - 10:48 am
0
0
Yeah, we needed to keep this

Yeah, we needed to keep this excuse for a superintendent. I wonder why she isn't being prosecuted? BTW what ever happened to the case of the kids breaking all the windows that Bedden was going to get to the bottom of?

Riverman1
83618
Points
Riverman1 06/17/10 - 10:51 am
0
0
You have to be kidding me? He

You have to be kidding me? He says because the school system is the victim that he is not going to press charges for stealing over $14,000? That means any county department can do the same thing if we let him set this precedent.

Mr. Bedden needs to keep in mind that the taxpayers own the school system not the administrators. This is one of the most outrageous things to happen around here in a long time. The BOE needs to jump into this matter pronto.

JackBootedThug
0
Points
JackBootedThug 06/17/10 - 11:01 am
0
0
Dana Bedden= Lame duck. Wrong

Dana Bedden= Lame duck. Wrong decision Mr Bedden!

CarlA
114
Points
CarlA 06/17/10 - 11:05 am
0
0
I am baffled that the woman

I am baffled that the woman was allowed to continue to work after the investigation began and then allowed to resign!!!!!!!!!!!! Why was she not terminated IMMEDIATELY!!!!!! UNBELIEVABLE!

chel
0
Points
chel 06/17/10 - 11:09 am
0
0
This is certainly one of

This is certainly one of those decisions that slaps the face of the average person who does not work for the county government. If this person worked for a private business they would have been prosecuted and serve time and been ordered to make restitution. How is this school employee different from the tags office employee who served 7 years in prison and made restitution? Back in 97' a tag employee stole thousands of dollars from tax payers, she was not only prosecuted but they forced the sale of everything she and her husband owned to cover the amount she stole. Why was this employee different? It sends a message that it is okay for "certain" people to steal and if this happens again...it set a precedent that will certainly be used.

Georgiais1
0
Points
Georgiais1 06/17/10 - 11:17 am
0
0
Bedden sounds like another

Bedden sounds like another arrogant leader that we have in the White House. He and the administrators don't own the school system, they manage it. I think because he is leaving, he doesn't give a flying hoot.

Labatt
0
Points
Labatt 06/17/10 - 11:18 am
0
0
What message does this send

What message does this send to the kids in school?

Riverman1
83618
Points
Riverman1 06/17/10 - 11:19 am
0
0
How can any type supervisor,

How can any type supervisor, department head or what have you choose not to prosecute theft of public money. Bedden worked for us and it was not his money for him to decide not to prosecute?

getalife
4
Points
getalife 06/17/10 - 11:22 am
0
0
This is not fair to all of

This is not fair to all of the people that stole money or shoplifted something and ended up in jail, stealing is stealing regardless. She should be prosecuted.

Riverman1
83618
Points
Riverman1 06/17/10 - 11:43 am
0
0
Tell me this. How much money

Tell me this. How much money would have to be stolen and under what circumstances before the person would be prosecuted? We need to let the current school employees know exactly what is acceptable and won't be a criminal matter. Is anything under $14,400 okay? Could more me stolen and it would be okay?

CarlA
114
Points
CarlA 06/17/10 - 11:51 am
0
0
The rationale that it would

The rationale that it would cost too much in legal fees makes no sense! This case would be referred to the DA's office and they would be responsible for prosecuting. The school board would have very little if any legal expenses.

CarlA
114
Points
CarlA 06/17/10 - 11:56 am
0
0
A few years back I audited

A few years back I audited some books where the office manager had stolen money and we were told by the DA that regardless if we pressed charges or not they were going to prosecute.

jbenny2010
263
Points
jbenny2010 06/17/10 - 11:56 am
0
0
Well, as Laurence Fishburne

Well, as Laurence Fishburne tells Sean Connery in Just Cause, "This case hangs together by a thin thread. You come down here, you start picking at them threads, it'll fall apart." Basically, if she went down she would take everybody down with her. Tom Sawyer didn't have a whitewash this bright.

reader54
209
Points
reader54 06/17/10 - 11:58 am
0
0
I t sounds as though Bedden

I t sounds as though Bedden what's to stir as little dust as is possible. He's leaving and couldn't care less except where it might jeopardize his new job. Ultimately, it's up to the State Attorney's office whether to prosecute or not. Where there has been an admitted crime and a confession, there is no basis for NOT prosecuting. Otherwise, would leave the door open for an argument of SELECTIVE prosecution. Leave it to the judge to decide punishment. DUH

corgimom
32181
Points
corgimom 06/17/10 - 12:03 pm
0
0
"In the conference, Bedden

"In the conference, Bedden said Thompkins was remorseful and had paid back all of the money, partly through pay garnishment and partly with the help of family. He also said Thompkins had no prior issues in her record."

Only in Augusta, can you steal $14,000 and not be prosecuted, but GIVEN A NEW JOB in the central office.

lylagirl
1
Points
lylagirl 06/17/10 - 12:19 pm
0
0
I guess whoever set Hephzibah

I guess whoever set Hephzibah High on fire will not be prosecuted either....hpmh!!!!

lylagirl
1
Points
lylagirl 06/17/10 - 12:22 pm
0
0
And @ georgiais1 we don't

And @ georgiais1 we don't give a flying hoot about howyou have compared Bedden to our President...there is no comparison...Bedden might be more like you than Obama...stay in your lane now!!!!!

inform
0
Points
inform 06/17/10 - 12:39 pm
0
0
I wish Texas would put Bedden

I wish Texas would put Bedden on the first flight out of here! He has done nothing that deserves another hour of pay. Our schools may have improved but he did what to make that happen? Each achievement or failure is local to the staff of each school but he gets the increase in pay and the teacher and staff gets furlough days for their hard work. Now if all that was furloughed took and little money from the school Bedden would have forgiven them and they would of been happy to come to school and invest in our community. Thompkins deserves to be punished like anyone else and be terminated from her position. This just allowed her to let the issue die down and apply for a job somewhere else and possibly do it again. Our school budget has its restraints and yet we allow stealing, they leave the lights on all day and night at each Richmond County School, have leaky faucets that do not have hot water to wash hands nor soap in the restrooms, but Georgia and mindless administrators cut back on education. Our future(children) has little chance in this system.

I hope the next Super has a passion for children, a record of proven success, the ability to weed out the staff that is useless and bring in new and energized staff and someone that will think for himself and not do what the money makers persuade him to do.

If the County persecuted Thompkins could the legal fees the county endured be added to her restitution?

lylagirl
1
Points
lylagirl 06/17/10 - 12:52 pm
0
0
I applaud you Inform....well

I applaud you Inform....well stated...Our children need the best so let's pray for a true leader who will do the right thing and get all of the dead weight out of this county ... please do not put another self-indulged top administrator in office....I know there is no perfect person but come on people let's get real...let's get back to the children!

dichotomy
32768
Points
dichotomy 06/17/10 - 01:29 pm
0
0
What was Bedden thinking? I

What was Bedden thinking? I have never seen a backwater town like this where government employees play so fast and loose with taxpayer money and the law. So this woman was not fired, was given a do nothing job downtown, and in effect the taxpayer paid back the money she stole by garnishment of her wages while she was showing up for work and doing nothing. I guess Blackmail Betty wasn't around to steer some loose contractor money to her. What's the matter? Couldn't they transfer Ms. Thompkins to the Water Dept. where she could just have someone clock her in and not even show up? This woman committed a felony and should be prosecuted and jailed. Period! Bedden was covering up something that he was afraid would come out in court. I know CC stands for Columbia County around here but we should start referring to Augusta/Richmond County as CC. Crooks and Clowns, because that is what we have running this county from the commissioners, department heads, to the school system. Richmond County taxpayers should start withholding their property tax payments until we can replace everyone in this government and school system from top to bottom. They could not possibly process all of the property in the county for tax auctions. I just cannot imagine what kind of demographic anomaly could concentrate so many Crooks and Clowns in one small place when the surrounding areas are so prosperous and progressive.

Jillian
2
Points
Jillian 06/17/10 - 01:27 pm
0
0
It looks like Glen Hills has

It looks like Glen Hills has more than 1 "get out of jail free" card. lol The thief should have to pay all fines and costs associated with the prosecution.

I worked as a volunteer at my son's school for quite a few years and know the sweat and effort involved in raising funds for the groups such as PTA, Band Booster's, etc. The parent's and student's both deserve justice being served in this case. It's a shame Bedden hasn't got enough guts to make sure it happens.

watergirl
0
Points
watergirl 06/17/10 - 02:10 pm
0
0
Its very easy to say what he

Its very easy to say what he should or shouldn't have done when you are not in his shoes or job... let us go to any one of your jobs and by looking from the outside tell you what your doing wrong.

Riverman1
83618
Points
Riverman1 06/17/10 - 03:46 pm
0
0
Watergirl said, "Its very

Watergirl said, "Its very easy to say what he should or shouldn't have done when you are not in his shoes or job... let us go to any one of your jobs and by looking from the outside tell you what your doing wrong."

That's the point. It's a crime and it is our business, not something Dr. Bedden has the right to overlook. Moreso, it's our money, not his. I won't second guess him on somethings, but when it comes to crime, their is an objective standard not set by him.

DAMY46
0
Points
DAMY46 06/17/10 - 05:07 pm
0
0
I am thinking about robbing a

I am thinking about robbing a Dollar General Store...If I get caught I will just give the money back and they won't press charges...What kind of bull hockey is this?

KatieLou
0
Points
KatieLou 06/17/10 - 05:17 pm
0
0
This is a felony, period.

This is a felony, period. Parents who are especially disgusted by this might investigate a class-action suit against the RCBOE, and specifically include Bedden in it. This is inexcusable. She's a thief and they're just letting her skate.

I don't understand how the DA isn't obligated to prosecute her anyway. She stole from the community and not just from the school. Aren't they required to indict people who have or are strongly suspected of having committed a felony like this?

DAMY46
0
Points
DAMY46 06/17/10 - 05:24 pm
0
0
On second thought:--To heck

On second thought:--To heck with a Dollar General I should go rob a bank..."Oh, you caught me, here is your money back, see you later, you guys have a good day."

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 06/17/10 - 05:46 pm
0
0
LOL.....ain't this a hoot

LOL.....ain't this a hoot folks....seems like U know who can commit all sorts of crimes and the AWM can report them but U know who still doesn't have to face a Judge...what say you justus??

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 06/17/10 - 07:26 pm
0
0
All court cases cost the city

All court cases cost the city money, let's not have any. Brilliant. Bedden is gone, why does he get to comment?

Junket831
0
Points
Junket831 06/17/10 - 08:07 pm
0
0
First of all the School Board

First of all the School Board should be the final arbiter on whether to proceed in civil court. They are ultimately responsible and theoretically the only ones that taxpayers can hold accountable.

The DA or other prosecutorial branch decides whether or not their is a crime worth prosecuting. Since the money has supposedly been refunded then a civil trial seems pointless, but a criminal trial should proceed. If she is a first time offender the sentence will be light, but it will still be on the books.

It was pointed out earlier and I second this thought. If the employee used wages from her employment to pay back the money then in essence the tax payer covered the theft, not the employee. What work did Bedden have her do while her wages were garnished? How was this done (no pay, partial pay)? Just like other offenders she should have been brought before a judge and if found guilty be ordered to pay back the money. If she didn't have the money at that point she could be forced to perform some type of community service for the schools.

The DA needs to publicly explain why her office is not pursuing this.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs