By Kathy Jefcoats
JONESBORO — A former Clayton County sheriff’s accountant pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing thousands of dollars from bond accounts during 2011.
Tracy Lynn Meredith, 42, of Stockbridge admitted in Clayton County Superior Court that she stole $6,558 from April 7 to April 14. Prosecutor Debrae Kennedy told Judge Matthew Simmons that Meredith took the money from about 14 bonds she processed from the Clayton County Jail to the City of Forest Park.
Kennedy said Meredith stole to cover everyday living expenses.
“She was attempting to replace the money so she would not get caught but she did get caught,” said Kennedy.
Meredith was charged with eight counts of theft by taking. She was allowed to plead to the charges under the First Offender Act, under objections from Kennedy.
“We would oppose first-offender status,” said Kennedy. “She was in a fiduciary role at the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office when she took money. I don’t believe it would be appropriate.”
However, defense attorney Alfonso Kraft argued that it should be allowed because the case is “kinda old.”
“She’s been in constant contact with me, she’s always wanted to make the victims whole, she has stable employment and has never been in trouble before,” said Kraft.
Simmons agreed. He sentenced Meredith as a first offender to six years on probation on each count, to be served concurrently. Simmons ordered Meredith to pay a $1,000 fine and $6,558 in restitution, along with other fees. Meredith is also to enroll in a theft-prevention class.
Simmons told Meredith if she violates First Offender probation, she faces up to 10 years in prison on each count. If she successfully completes her probation, she can petition to have the case expunged.
Meredith did not address the court except to accept her plea negotiation.
Meredith was hired by then-Sheriff Kem Kimbrough shortly after he took office in January 2009.