A former DeKalb Sheriff’s Office manager was found not guilty last week of two counts of racketeering charges, while her co-defendant was convicted of the crime.
Dorcas Jernigan, a former manager in the civil process unit of the sheriff’s office, had been indicted for 81 alleged acts of theft, forgery, bribery and false swearing from November 2007 through July 2008. A jury cleared her of the charges on Feb. 17.
Nathan Hoyte Jones was convicted on all charges and will be sentenced by Superior Court Judge Daniel Coursey on Feb. 25.
Jones and another indictee Shandarrick Barnes, were accused of using their company, Refund Solutions, to fraudulently obtain funds that should have been returned to people who had posted cash bonds.
When a person uses cash for bond, the money is held by the sheriff’s office until the case is completed. The person putting up the bond money then has five years to obtain the funds before the money is turned over to the state.
Assistant District Attorney John Melvin said Refund Solutions had a “pattern of racketeering.” The company would present forged documents to Jernigan’s unit to fraudulently obtain funds due to other people, Melvin said.
During the trial Jernigan’s attorney, Keith Adams, portrayed Jernigan as a victim of the fraud of Jones and Barnes.
Adams said there is no evidence that Jernigan “knew that they were creating forged documents, that she assisted them in creating forged documents, that she told them to come and present these documents, [or] that she told anyone to turn a blind eye.”
There is “not one shred of evidence that she was involved in their fraud at all,” Adams said.
Barnes pled guilty in 2010 for his role and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, 20 years probation and was ordered to pay $412,000 in restitution.
DeKalb Sheriff Thomas Brown, who testified in the trial, said he does not regret firing Jernigan because she violated policies regarding the use of his signature on checks. Jernigan was not allowed to use Brown’s signature stamp on refund checks of $5,000 or more.
“My standard operating procedure was quite clear,” Brown said.
Brown, who originally hired Jernigan to work in the jail division, later promoted her to manage the civil process unit, which holds cash bonds until the associated court case has been disposed of.
In court on Feb. 15, Brown told the jury that Jernigan was promoted to the position because he needed a quick learner to fill the position.
“I put her over there specifically to watch my back, Brown said. “She violated my trust.”