Originally created 05/15/04

Police arrest social worker



ATHENS, Ga. - One ex-employee of an Athens-based social-services agency was arrested Thursday on charges of stealing money from a retarded client, the day after another ex-employee was indicted on charges she stole from a blind woman for whom she was caring.

Mary Hall, formerly a residential supervisor with Advantage Behavioral Health Systems, surrendered at Clarke County Jail on Thursday afternoon, after learning that Athens-Clarke police had obtained an arrest warrant charging her with four counts of felony theft by conversion.

Athens-Clarke police Detective Beverly Russell said that Ms. Hall is suspected of stealing as much as $15,000 from the retarded Advantage client, but that the investigation was able to confirm only $950 had been stolen.

On Wednesday, a Clarke County grand jury returned an indictment charging 48-year-old Jacqueline Killian with three counts each of felony theft by conversion and first-degree fraud. As in Ms. Hall's case, Ms. Killian is suspected of stealing "much more" from her blind Advantage client than the $300 that could be proved, Detective Russell said.

The theft by conversion charges, usually misdemeanors, are felonies in these cases because the women had been employees of the state.

Formerly known as the Northeast Georgia Center for Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse, the agency provides social services to clients in Clarke and nine other northeast Georgia counties.

Advantage maintains accounts for clients from which they can draw to pay for such living expenses as food and rent. Detective Russell said the agency instituted measures to tighten controls over client funds after allegations of thefts surfaced in October.

Ms. Hall had been an Advantage employee since 1989. She resigned Oct. 3, a day after a published news account that the state Department of Human Resources was investigating allegations of thefts from Advantage clients.

According to Detective Russell, Ms. Hall had been taking care of a mildly retarded man who required assisted-living services from Advantage while supporting himself with a job cleaning the floor of an area business. Instead of depositing the man's paychecks into his Advantage account, Ms. Hall cashed the checks and used the money to "supplement her income."

Ms. Killian had been caring for a 45-year-old blind woman who held a part-time job.

Detective Russell said that like Ms. Hall, Ms. Killian had pocketed money from the woman's earnings instead of depositing it into the woman's account at Advantage.