Thefts lead to 1 arrest, 2 firings

Special
Mandy Rhodes: Worker in Magistrate Court Clerk's office is accused of pocketing fines, fees and court costs.

In the wake of an audit and investigation of the Richmond County Civil and Magistrate Court Clerk's office, the top clerk has been fired.

Chief Judge William D. Jennings III said Wednesday that Mandy Rhodes, 29, was fired upon her arrest for stealing from the office, and the clerk of civil and magistrate courts, Gaynell Bonner, was also fired.

Although he hated to fire Ms. Bonner after 30 years of service, Judge Jennings said that according to the auditors, it was a supervision failure that paved the way for the repeated thefts of cash.

Ms. Bonner was given 60 days of administrative leave with pay before her termination.

Another court employee, a warrant officer, has been placed on administrative leave with pay. The judge is considering whether further action is needed.

The officer was placed on leave, Judge Jennings said, because he thought she failed to cooperate fully and immediately with the investigation. It is unacceptable conduct for someone who sits in judgment and decides if arrest warrants should be issued, Judge Jennings said.

Ms. Rhodes, 29, is charged with violating the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. She is free on a $25,000 bond.

She is accused of pocketing cash paid in fines, fees and court costs between June 1, 2004, and Aug. 7. Investigators think the thefts total at least $21,113.