Employee of Worthless Check Unit terminated after internal review reveals $11,000 missing
Melissa Cason, Franklin County Times
The Franklin County District Attorney's Office announced yesterday that a recent finding in an internal review of the Worthless Check Unit will be turned over to the Attorney General's office for possible prosecution.
The review prompted the dismissal of Sommer Barnes, a longtime employee of the Worthless Check Unit.
District Attorney Joey Rushing said that an independent accountant discovered delays between when deposits were prepared and when they were actually taken to the bank.
"When this information was discovered, an internal review was conducted into office personnel and procedures and deposits for the month of August were found to be missing, totaling $11,000," Rushing said. "At that time, the employee in charge of making deposits of office funds (Barnes) was immediately terminated."
He added that several days after Barnes was dismissed, she returned the missing funds to the District Attorney's office.
Barnes' attorney, William Underwood, said the issue stems from a disagreement in accounting practices, adding his client has done nothing wrong. He claims Barnes was not returning the money after her termination, she was simply making her final deposit.
"It was a delayed deposit," Underwood said. "I can honestly said that no money is missing from that office. This is a great to-do about nothing."
All the information obtained from the accountant and the internal review has been forwarded to the Attorney General's Office for review and possible prosecution from Troy King's office.
"Since this case involves a former Franklin County District Attorney employee, and because the investigation into missing funds was handled internally, this office must turn the file over to another agency for prosecution determination," Rushing said.
Rushing said that he is sure justice will be served once the Attorney General reviews the information sent, and noted that the initial discrepancy was found last Thursday, leading to Barnes' dismissal the following day.
"Hopefully, our actions in the handling of this matter lets the public know that this office will do the right thing when this type of unlawful activity takes place," he said.
Rushing added that the safeguards he implemented when he took office in 2005 to prevent theft of the public money worked, quickly alerting his office that there was a problem so that an internal investigation could be launched.
Barnes, a longtime employee of the District Attorney's office, has worked under three district attorneys.
At this time, no charges have been filed by the Attorney General's Office against Barnes.