Court clerk charged with pocketing $21,000 in fees

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A former Burke County Magistrate Court deputy clerk has been charged with racketeering, accused of stealing more than $21,000 from the county and then lying to cover it up.

Hammock  Special
Special
Hammock

According to her indictment, handed down Aug. 9, Nichole K. Hammock, 34, is accused of stealing from the court 237 times between July 2006 and January of this year, pocketing the money when people paid fines, fees and court costs.

After two checks from the magistrate's office bounced in January, the county had the firm Baird & Co. audit the books. Mrs. Hammock was present when an auditor counted all the cash on hand, then asked why there was less than the receipt totals written since the last bank deposit. She couldn't explain it, the indictment says.

On Jan. 16, according to the indictment, she tried to defuse the situation by giving an accountant working on the audit $26,000. She told a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent that it was money she had taken home for safekeeping.

"In fact, the defendant had acquired the money from her mother-in-law," who wrote Mrs. Hammock a check for $35,000 the same day she handed over the cash, the indictment states.

Mrs. Hammock was also indicted on one count of theft by taking by a government employee.

She was booked in the Burke County jail Aug. 15 and released on a $28,900 bond. She did not return a phone message seeking comment.

If convicted, she faces a maximum of 35 years in prison and $63,000 in fines.

County Administrator Merv Waldrop said Baird & Co. never could pinpoint exactly how much money went missing. The auditors recommended ways to prevent another incident.

"We're seeing that revenues turned over to the commission have improved, and bookkeeping has greatly improved," Mr. Waldrop said.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (24) Add comment
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pofwe
5
Points
pofwe 08/23/07 - 06:55 am
0
0
Racketeering, that's a

Racketeering, that's a stretch. RICCO was enacted to apprehend organized criminals. As usual a prosecutor wanting to hype their resume. A $10 lawyer, (I'm a $3 wanna be lawyer), will be able to get the RICCO tossed out. Nicole ain't no organized criminal. Had she been Burke would have been bam-boozeled out of far more than they reported. She's sho' is purdy. If they will release her to my custody I'd be glad to counsel & reform her. (Jest Joshin'). Ga-day!

Equaltreatmentforall
49
Points
Equaltreatmentforall 08/23/07 - 07:37 am
0
0
What a shame, greed on this

What a shame, greed on this woman's part has ruined her life. She will never be trusted again, and her bright future is gone. Looks like she was even doing her Mother in law wrong. She received a check from her for $35,000 and was trying to turn in $26,000. So very sad....

intheknow
16
Points
intheknow 08/23/07 - 07:46 am
0
0
With a relative having that

With a relative having that kind of money to lend, drugs are more than likely her problem. First offender status and rehab. More than likely not a danger to the public.

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 08/23/07 - 07:50 am
0
0
I understand what Ms. Hammock

I understand what Ms. Hammock did was wrong but 35 year in prison. My Gosh, murderers and sex offenders don't even get that amount of time these days. Money is the root of all evil.

wbrown1219
0
Points
wbrown1219 08/23/07 - 08:07 am
0
0
The LOVE of money is the root

The LOVE of money is the root of all evil!

good7ness7
1
Points
good7ness7 08/23/07 - 08:13 am
0
0
Most of Burke County could be

Most of Burke County could be in jail for these kind of acts!!!!!!!!
Been there - seen it!!!!!!!!

brownskin30434
2
Points
brownskin30434 08/23/07 - 08:27 am
0
0
Actually, the want of money

Actually, the want of money is the root of all evil.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
11294
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 08/23/07 - 08:58 am
0
0
Good7ness7 I take offense to

Good7ness7 I take offense to your statment and think you should qualify, not quantify it. Or is it meant to include you also?

Inkjet
2
Points
Inkjet 08/23/07 - 08:59 am
0
0
No background checks or

No background checks or urinalysis with this employer?

good7ness7
1
Points
good7ness7 08/23/07 - 09:09 am
0
0
no, does not include me, and

no, does not include me, and I am not concerned with your taking offense to my statement. HAVE SEEN IT HAPPEN!!
Deal with it or not!!!!

sisteract
0
Points
sisteract 08/23/07 - 10:42 am
0
0
most of the messages posted

most of the messages posted here are from people who know nothing of this person, she is not the only person to blame in this situation, poor supervision from persons who have the slightest idea of what there doing are also to blame if the employees are not made to write receipts for money taken in this office who can say where the money went, judging people is as evil as your money comments, besides if she needed money i'm sure her mother in law would have given it to her before hand.

HGGP
0
Points
HGGP 08/23/07 - 11:00 am
0
0
I know Nicole personally and

I know Nicole personally and she is a very nice person. I do not know what she was going through or what she was thinking at the time, but this is excessive. She is a wonderful person with a wonderful husband and daughter. She has lost a lot because of her actions and stands to loose even more here in the near future. She really found out who her true Christian friends were. Those same Christians turn their head when she walks in now. We were never close friends in high school but I still have conversations with her and pray for her and her family. It is a shame that we can be so quick to condemn and judge someone else, what about yourself? I am sure we all have weakness, they may not get us locked up, but we all have them. Nicole I will continue to pray for you and your family. Please continue to walk tall, but also please ask God to walk with you. I hope through all of this she has found comfort in knowing that her true friends are still by her side. There are many of us who will be here for you and your daughter, all you have to do is ask. Forgiveness is Gods business, all you have to do is ask.

Get Real
0
Points
Get Real 08/23/07 - 11:57 am
0
0
I went to high school with

I went to high school with Nichole and this was a total shocker!!!

Get Real
0
Points
Get Real 08/23/07 - 11:58 am
0
0
I went to high school with

I went to high school with Nichole and this was a total shocker!!!

Get Real
0
Points
Get Real 08/23/07 - 12:00 pm
0
0
I know Nichole from high

I know Nichole from high school, and this was a total shocker!!!

Augusta Mom
1
Points
Augusta Mom 08/23/07 - 12:40 pm
0
0
I suppose handling all that

I suppose handling all that money every day is "tempting".
I've never been able to understand how they can get away with it for so long though. Richmond County has had their share of dishonest court clerks also, if you remember the recent cases. It just seems that there is a direct lack of supervision in the dept.

CoastalDawg
125
Points
CoastalDawg 08/23/07 - 12:42 pm
0
0
Grace, you got it wrong,

Grace, you got it wrong, someone else got it right: The LOVE of money is the root of all evil. Regardless of the outcome here, it's a sad situation, sad that someone could get caught up and take money belonging to someone else, sad for her, her family and friends. Whomever implied that only people who do drugs is completely in error and might well have set up himself/herself for a slander suit if the mother in law wanted to proceed. Especially in small towns, people who DO have money often have it available and not tied up in some stock or bond. Who knows what reason the accused gave the mother in law for asking for the money, but there obviously is or at least was a good relationship between the two. A few years ago a clerk in Chatham County went to prison because fine money was missing and she was responsible for counting and banking it EXCEPT that cash fines taken overnight might never have reached her hands.
It is a sad state of affairs that crimes involving money require more time behind bars than crimes against persons involving physical harm or death.

sexy brownsugar
2
Points
sexy brownsugar 08/23/07 - 04:38 pm
0
0
This just a sad situation

This just a sad situation that this poor mother and wife got caught up.I mean this kind of stuff happen all the time,anytime someone dealing with money and they learn the system.they take a little at a time and then they get greeted once they figure they not going to get caught.But like they say what happen in the dark will come to light.I just don't know what she was thinking,I wonder did her husband notice that she was having alot of money on her from time to time.They did say this started back in 06

GET REAL1
1
Points
GET REAL1 08/23/07 - 04:53 pm
0
0
thief, thief, thief!!!

thief, thief, thief!!!

edwardc
1
Points
edwardc 08/23/07 - 08:20 pm
0
0
Thou shalt not steal.

Thou shalt not steal. Thirty-five years ain't nothin' compared to eternity in hell.

Chains
1
Points
Chains 08/23/07 - 08:25 pm
0
0
Damn! I thought that only

Damn! I thought that only blacks stole!!

markxr7
0
Points
markxr7 08/23/07 - 11:38 pm
0
0
WOW! THIS PLACE SURE IS FULL

WOW! THIS PLACE SURE IS FULL OF RACE BAITERS AND JESUS FREAKS. Of course I forgot this is "Disgusta" home of the TYPICAL ignorant REDNECKS. Nicole get yourself a good lawyer Sugar Doll! Ole Boss Hogg and those Georgia boys in Burke County are gearing to cook your southern belle a**. LOL!

justus4
113
Points
justus4 08/24/07 - 12:12 am
0
0
She will get a light
Unpublished

She will get a light sentence, probably probation. No talk about taxpayer money or honor. Just a bunch of nonsense about why. She earned at least ten yrs. Remember the rule of law!

september 5th
1
Points
september 5th 08/24/07 - 08:33 am
0
0
her direct supervisor should

her direct supervisor should be fired! (for not having a system in place to make sure this type of stealing does not occur); the mother-in-law should be arrested as an accomplice!

intheknow
16
Points
intheknow 08/24/07 - 08:55 am
0
0
COSTALDAWG, I do not know if

COSTALDAWG, I do not know if you were referring to my post, I may not have been clear. My point was, why did she not ask the relative for money, instead of taking it. I was stating that maybe drugs was her reason for taking the money. I also feel that nothing good will come from her spending years in jail. She more than likely need help with an addiction.

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