Updated: 8:11 p.m. Thursday, April 19, 2012 | Posted: 6:26 p.m. Thursday, April 19, 2012
3 former state prison workers indicted on fraud charges
By Fran Jeffries
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Three former Georgia State Prison employees have been indicted in Tattnal County for allegedly scheming to steal tens of thousands of dollars from the state, authorities said.
Debbie Lynn Wright, a senior clerk at the prison in Reidsville, was charged with one count of racketeering and two counts of theft, according to a news release from the Georgia Attorney General's Office.
Her daughter Christin Lynn Wright, an administrative assistant at the prison, also was charged with racketeering, while Paul Sylvester Thornhill, a licensed practical nurse at the prison, was charged with one count of theft by taking, the Attorney General's Office said.
The indicted former employees were initially investigated at the request of the jail warden after a whistleblower complaint was received in December 2009, officials said. The suspects were fired within two weeks after the allegations surfaced.
The indictment alleges that Debbie Lynn Wright devised a scheme to defraud the state by manually entering fraudulent information into electronic time sheets that resulted in Thornhill and Christin Lynn Wright being paid for overtime hours they did not work.
Thornhill received double or triple payment for working the same hours, the indictment said.
On at least two occasions, Debbie Lynn Wright used documents containing entries she knew to be fraudulent to support her manual entries, according to the indictment.
Thornhill and Christin Lynn Wright took their ill-gotten gains by bank deposit or check and returned some of the money to Debbie Lynn Wright directly or by paying bills on her behalf, the indictment said.
It is estimated that Christin Lynn Wright received about $14,000 in unearned compensation, and Thornhill received at least $63,000 in unearned compensation.
Racketeering carries a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to three times the amount of money stolen, authorities said. Theft by a government employee carries a maximum of 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
A Lawrenceville pastor wants his congregation to know the good news about the Gospel of Mark. Dean Sweetman, senior pastor of the C3 Church, has challenged his members and anyone else interested to read the New Testament book in its entirety over the next year and post Instagram photos of their notes.
Bernice King, the one member of Martin Luther King Jr.’s direct family who does not want to sell his Nobel Peace Prize and Bible, is scheduled to turn the items over today to be watched over by the Fulton County Superior Court.