FBI is probing South Georgia Court System - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

FBI is probing South Georgia Court System

June 29, 2007

Clinch County - A federal grand jury is set to probe the five counties that make up the Alapaha Judicial Circuit.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation recently subpoenaed the Superior Court Clerks in Lanier, Cook, Atkinson, Berrien and Clinch Counties.

County officials at each office say they were asked to fax or overnight certified court documents earlier this month.  However the subjects of the documents subpoenaed vary between counties.

In Atkinson County, Superior Court Clerk Wilson Paulk says he was asked for documents regarding orders from all court judges.

Cook County Clerk Chlois Lollis sent the orders concerning Chief Superior Court Judge Brooks Blitch's appointment of Berrien Sutton and Jody Steedley as Juvenile Court Judges.

Lanier County Court Clerk Martha Neugent was also asked to send documents but wouldn't say of what nature.

In Berrien County, they requested copies of documents relating to misdemeanor probation supervision.

Tuesday FBI agents raided the courthouse in Clinch County, saying they were investigating numerous government officials.  They would not comment further about the investigation or say whether the investigation is tied to a questionable misdemeanor probation account maintained by the Clinch County Clerk of Courts office. 

According to an audit outlining the account, it was created by Judge Brooks Blitch and has allowed five employees to collect nearly 70 thousands dollars since 2002. It was never listed in the records at the Clerk of Courts office and is currently under investigation to see if any laws were violated.

District Attorney Cathy Helms was also subpoenaed and is scheduled to appear before the grand jury July 17th.

Judge Dane Perkins says in spite of the subpoenas, courts will operate as normal and all July cases are on schedule.

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