Ex-city worker pleads guilty

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The former assistant coroner pleaded guilty Monday to stealing several gift cards at a New Year's Eve death scene.

Graham  Special
Special
Graham

Charlena Graham, 44, was sentenced to seven years' probation under the First Offender Act. Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet also ordered Ms. Graham to pay $325 in restitution and $5,000 in fines.

"I want to apologize to the LeBlanc family. I apologize for any additional grief I have caused you," Ms. Graham said in Richmond County Superior Court. She also apologized to her family and to the coroner's office for the embarrassment she caused them.

Ms. Graham was fired and arrested in January after the theft was discovered.

On Dec. 31, Ms. Graham was sent to an Augusta hotel where a 29-year-old woman had committed suicide. Gift cards from her family were in the room.

Stephanie LeBlanc's father expressed the family's appreciation for the swift action by law enforcement, but he said the family was dismayed that media coverage focused on Ms. Graham and her financial troubles.

Bruce LeBlanc said his daughter had hardships, too, but she was working and going to school for a teaching degree. She was on the dean's list at Augusta State University, he said.

Ms. Graham's possible punishment was enhanced because she committed the crime while on duty as a government employee. She could have been sentenced to as much as 15 years in prison.

Defense attorney Pete Theodocion highlighted Ms. Graham's years as a Richmond County sheriff's officer and detective before she joined the coroner's staff in 2004.

Ms. Graham understood that the $325 theft case was worse because of the disrespect to the victim and because she was on duty. But Mr. Theodocion asked Judge Overstreet to balance that against Ms. Graham's lack of prior offenses and her years as a public servant.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

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DistantObserver
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DistantObserver 07/08/08 - 09:43 am
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js_ee, by your logic a person

js_ee, by your logic a person getting their first ticket for speeding was speeding for the first time? Not likely. I suspect this was NOT the first time she did such a thing, just the first time she got caught. For someone in a position of trust to act with such impunity is not a minor issue. I feel some crimes (such as this one) are so despicable and heinous they should be excluded from the guidelines of the First Offender Act.

freespeech
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freespeech 07/08/08 - 09:54 am
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This was just the FIRST time

This was just the FIRST time she got caught. She is a thief and has probably been stealing all her life. How does anyone in their right mind figure "she has be set up to fail". She did it to herself.

TrulyWorried
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TrulyWorried 07/08/08 - 10:08 am
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Taking property from the body

Taking property from the body of a deceased cannot be called a mistake - how low can one go. And, very true, how many times may this have happened before and she was not caught.
Wonder how pleased she is with her sentence? BUT she has to live with herself for the rest of her life - knowing what a criminal she really is.

HYPOCRITES 08
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HYPOCRITES 08 07/08/08 - 10:26 am
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you can suspect all you wish,

you can suspect all you wish, the point is this was her first time in court. Using your logic, no one should get a first offender, because more than likely it was not their first time.

TrukinRanger
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TrukinRanger 07/08/08 - 10:30 am
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minority??? what minority????
Unpublished

minority??? what minority????

3572
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3572 07/08/08 - 10:31 am
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On sunday in church the

On sunday in church the preacher preach a very important messge you can take this for what it is worth. Sin is sin none bigger than the next but he said that god is the only perfect one. Its is gods place to judge not ours. It take all the time that we have here on earth to keep ourselves together. I am just saying that regardless of what was done we have all done wrong and in gods eyes regardless if she stole the gift cards or whatever the same forgiveness that god will give us for our wrong he will do the same for her. I am rying to make the point of saying everyday we wake up if we would take the time to say and do something to make this world a better place to live in it would make a positive difference. Hope everyone just think about what i said and pray that she will get it together because what she did , didnt just hurt her or the decease family but think about the shame her family has to face for something they didnt do, but because you have people putting her down and all that they are suffering to . God bless lets starting praying more and lifting each other up and stop all of this kicking dirty on the man thats on the ground already

HYPOCRITES 08
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HYPOCRITES 08 07/08/08 - 10:43 am
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I wonder how mush time that

I wonder how mush time that Clerk at the warrant office, or that secretary that stole hundreds of thousands of dollars got. The amount was less than $500.00, I guess they could have given her the death penalty.

Farful
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Farful 07/08/08 - 10:44 am
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profound statement

profound statement

js_ee
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js_ee 07/08/08 - 10:47 am
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Every act is done for a FIRST

Every act is done for a FIRST time...why can't this be hers. I am not defending this woman or saying what she did doesn't deserve punishment, but jail time for this??? Mistake - an incorrect, unwise, or unfortunate act or decision caused by bad judgment or a lack of information or care. I guess all of you are perfect and always have and always will make perfect decisions.

griesella
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griesella 07/08/08 - 10:56 am
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It seems that some people

It seems that some people think that we can't teach our young people not to do what we deem to be wrong. After all, who are we to tell them what is right or wrong? Give me a break...

i.b.e.w..electric
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i.b.e.w..electric 07/08/08 - 11:29 am
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justus ,the problem is a

justus ,the problem is a certain minority keeps complaining they are not treated fairly in this country ,well if this minority would make an effort to fit in with society things might be different.this minority makes up 86% of our prison population because of their violence and other criminal acts such as stealing and so forth.and yet when one person of this minority gets caught doing a criminal act its always white americas fault ,this minority refuses to take responcibility for the actions of it people.its not the fault of the majority if you cant teach your people right from wrong,and raise your children to have respect for other people and other peoples property.i know this comment will most likely get zapped but i feel like i had to say something.

chacha2008
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chacha2008 07/08/08 - 11:59 am
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Just another time when

Just another time when "justice" was not served. She didn't take no damn fall either. She got off easy. She will never repay the family and what about the added heart ache she caused an already greifing family. She could of got 15 years in prison. She isn't seeing a day of it either. Poor little girl she got into financial trouble so she had to steal from the dead so she could go shopping. She pathetic. A disgrace to the human race! Crying in court oh please only so you could get off easy, you aren't sorry just sorry you got caught and lost your job. Hope you have lots of trouble finding a new one.

KingJames
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KingJames 07/08/08 - 12:21 pm
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When are you all going to

When are you all going to learn to ignore justus? Every story about a black person having to go to jail is not racial.

griesella
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griesella 07/08/08 - 01:36 pm
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I have no problem with the

I have no problem with the sentence but I sure have a problem with something as gruesome as taking the possessions of a corpse. Sounds as if she needs a shrink.

helpicantfindthespacebar
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helpicantfindthespacebar 07/08/08 - 01:59 pm
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It must take a special kind

It must take a special kind of low-life to steal from the dead like that. The First Offender sentence was surely a slap in the face to the family of the deceased, and that woman's sentence SHOULD have been enhanced because of her position. Being sent there to investigate a tragic suicide and using that as an opportunity to look for freebies? Bet it wasn't a first for her.

cparker
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cparker 07/08/08 - 02:01 pm
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This is not about her being

This is not about her being black....Its about her being stupid. I am happy about the first offenders act, because this will allow her to clear her criminal record when she serves out her seven years probation. Remember....Immorality has no race, gender, or address.

alr55
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alr55 07/08/08 - 02:39 pm
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I would have to agree that

I would have to agree that Ms. Graham's behavior was disrespectful, I seriously doubt this was her fist time stealing she just happened to get caught, I am a minority myself and I don't think the sentence had anything to do with race, she got what she deserved but I think they could have been tougher on her.

apocpylypsenow
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apocpylypsenow 07/08/08 - 07:21 pm
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typical hamer posts, but what

typical hamer posts, but what can you expect from a ""dribble"!

lilnaenae184
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lilnaenae184 07/08/08 - 10:32 pm
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what she did was wrong but

what she did was wrong but the sentence she got was justified no worst then the lady who was stealing all the money from the tax office. everybody deserves a second chance people make mistakes. if u unemploy everybody who makes one there is going to be even more killing and stealing. and if the young lady who committed suicide was so successful and had a such good things going for herself then why did she give up. and take her own life. putting this woman in prison still won't bring her back.

TakeAstand
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TakeAstand 07/08/08 - 11:38 pm
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A former cop and detective,

A former cop and detective, and a gov't employee. I don't care what financial troubles she had.. she should have done some time!! If she misses one payment they outta throw her back in. Everyone deserves a second chance, but I am willing to bet at her age this is just the first time she got caught!!!!!!!!!! Wonder why she is no longer working with the dept??? Some moral issues there too??? I have no sympathy for a hypocrite.

As It Is
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As It Is 07/09/08 - 12:22 am
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We need to have these liberal

We need to have these liberal judges move to another state and the first offenders act needs to be repealed. At least give her a year in jail for these actions. People MUST know that when they make others their victims they will face severe consequences for their actions.

beelow37
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beelow37 07/09/08 - 11:09 am
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Yeahright-My question to you-

Yeahright-My question to you- Why don't your family have this investigative and this woman won't be under the first offender law again?

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