The city of Hapeville has asked Gov. Nathan Deal to appoint a replacement for councilwoman Ruth Barr, who was sentenced this week to serve the next five years in prison.
A Gwinnett County jury on Wednesday found Barr guilty of a single county of felony theft by taking, a charge based on more than $109,000 the councilwoman collected from her sister and ailing brother-in-law in 2013. Barr, a financial planner and accountant, purportedly vowed to invest the money but quickly spent it on herself.
State law holds that any public official found guilty of a felony shall be suspended from office immediately. The official cannot be formally removed from office until all appeals of the criminal case are exhausted.
In the meantime, though, the governor is authorized to appoint a replacement to fulfill the suspended official’s duties. On Thursday, the city of Hapeville asked Deal to do just that.
Barr is Hapeville’s alderman at large, a position that represents the entire south Fulton County city and fills duties similar to a mayor pro tem.
“The Governor’s office has indicated that he will act swiftly in this regard,”the city’s mayor and council said in their joint statement.
The Gwinnett County case is only part of Barr’s legal troubles.
Her tax preparation business, B&B Accounting and Tax Services, is also the subject of a sprawling state investigation. Barr was arrested in January as part of that ongoing investigation, which involves tax returns her firm prepared on behalf of more than 7,700 people.
The state’s probe was spurred by an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News.