Investigator faces charges of forgery

A Columbia County sheriff's investigator has been arrested on an accusation that she forged several victims' names on sheriff's office documents, closing at least one case when the victim still wanted to prosecute.

Brooke Renai Kelly was charged with nine counts of first-degree forgery and violation of oath by a public officer Friday afternoon, according to sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris. She has since been released on $28,000 bond.

Authorities say they are trying to find out how many cases might have been incorrectly closed.

The issue was brought to the attention of authorities after a victim said her case had been closed incorrectly and that someone had forged her name on an official document, police say. A sheriff's office investigation determined the document, a waiver of prosecution, had been forged by Ms. Kelly, Capt. Morris said. The investigation also determined that Ms. Kelly had forged the names of eight other complainants or victims on nine forms, he said.

"Most of these cases, the victims that we contacted remembered receiving a phone call from the investigator and they did not want their case to proceed forward," Capt. Morris said. "There was at least one that we know of and have confirmed that did not want their case closed and did want the investigator to conduct a complete and comprehensive investigation to include prosecution."

Capt. Morris said that case has been reassigned.

Ms. Kelly was hired by the sheriff's office July 9, 2005, and was transferred to the Criminal Investigations Division on Jan. 8, 2007. She was previously employed by the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, according to a news release.

Most of the cases affected were damaged property complaints or thefts. Authorities said laziness appears to be the motive.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.