By Kathy Jefcoats
JONESBORO — Clayton County police said Senior Services Director Mary Byrd bribed one of her employees to lie about an ongoing audit, according to a warrant read in open court Saturday morning.
Byrd, 56, of Fayetteville made her first appearance on 13 counts of fourth-degree forgery and one count of bribery. Police said she surrendered to the Clayton County Jail Friday.
According to the warrant read by Magistrate Court Judge Kimberly Bandoh, Byrd is alleged to have given the employee $200 July 11 to encourage the worker to lie to the Clayton County Police Department about an ongoing audit into Senior Services. The employee was not charged, according to court records.
Police said the audit revealed "discrepancies" and warrants were issued Thursday for Byrd's arrest.
Byrd, wearing her own dark pantsuit with a white blouse and shoes, was handcuffed and shackled at the ankles and seated at a table separate from the other inmates wearing orange or green county-issued jumpsuits and flip-flops. Bandoh mistook her for an attorney.
Byrd told Bandoh she has an attorney, William McKenney, but he did not attend the hearing. Bandoh set her bond at $150,000 with special conditions including that she have no contact with the employee and that she stay away from 877 Battlecreek Road — the address of Senior Services headquarters in Jonesboro.
Bandoh denied Byrd's request to lower the bond.
"I'm a homeowner and have lived in this county for 30 years," said Byrd. "Can I have a lower bond?"
Byrd told Bandoh she would have to consult with her husband and attorney to determine if she can post bond. If she cannot bond out, Byrd's next court date is for a preliminary hearing Aug. 6, said Bandoh. Byrd can also petition the court for a bond hearing to reconsider the amount.
Commission Chairman Jeff Turner said Byrd was placed on unpaid administrative leave last week while investigators processed information gathered from the audit. Detectives executed a search warrant at Byrd's home and at the Senior Services headquarters Thursday, said police.
According to the commission's website, Byrd has served Clayton County for six years and was previously a health and wellness specialist in the Aging Division of the Atlanta Regional Commission.
She was honored last year with the 2012 Beverly Littlefield Award for excellence in program development and operations from the Georgia Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services.
Byrd was lauded for her leadership of Senior Services, the fifth largest department in the county, consisting of six facilities and more than 125 employees.