A former deputy in the Anderson County clerk's office has been indicted by an Anderson County grand jury in an alleged "skimming" case in which authorities say she took cash intended for the county's coffers.
Bridgette Franklin, 23, of Elkhart was indicted on Thursday on a total of 918 counts on the felony charges of theft by a public servant and misapplication of fiduciary funds, according to Anderson County District Attorney Doug Lowe.
During a three-year period beginning in February 2008 and ending in May, authorities allege Franklin stole cash presented by customers to purchase birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses and other documents while working as a deputy clerk for the county clerk's office.
In its 251-page indictment against Franklin, the state alleges the woman skimmed a total of $32,261 intended for the county, according to Lowe.
Chris Dobbs, an investigator with the Anderson County district attorney's office who is a certified fraud examiner, spent between 60 and 70 hours on the investigation, according to the district attorney. Employees of the Anderson County clerk's office expended manpower hours to assist as well, he added.
Franklin was employed by the county clerk's office for almost five years, beginning in June 2006 and ending this past May when she was terminated in connection with the skimming investigation.
Dobbs said Friday that he was able to determine the number of counts and total loss to the county through "a review and analysis of all transactions for the entire time of her employment."
New procedures have been put in place by the Anderson County clerk's office to prevent a similar occurrence, according to Lowe.
Marriage licenses typically cost $72 in the clerk's office, while the standard charge for a birth and death certificate is $22.
Lowe said Franklin stole cash used by customers for purchase of these and other documents on hundreds of occasions—often times multiple times in a day—over the three-year period alleged in the document.
"There's a significant amount of money that comes into that office," Lowe said.
Franklin was terminated from her position on May 19—several days after the district attorney's office had started its investigation into the alleged activities.
Lowe said his office hopes to have the case against Franklin adjudicated "before the end of the year.
"I think it's important that we handle this case like any other case in our office and move along and reach a resolution," the district attorney said. "...She's innocent until proven guilty in court."
As of Saturday afternoon, Franklin had not been arrested on the charges, according to jail records.
Her bonds on the charges total $35,000 and were set by 369th State District Judge Bascom W. Bentley III.
Franklin is being represented by local attorney Phil Fletcher, according to Lowe.
Article by Paul Stone, Palestine Herald-Press