Cherokee court reporters jailed for scheming on transcript overcharges

Three former Cherokee County court reporters who pleaded guilty to racketeering were sentenced to jail, the Cobb County district attorney said.

Investigators said Tammy Stine, Kimberly Probst and Betty Petersen stole hundreds of thousands of dollars by over billing for their transcribing services.

Since at least 2006, investigators said, the three court reporters had expanded the spacing in official court transcripts to increase the number of pages transcribed, and also billed for pages that did not exist.

Under state law, the Judicial Council of Georgia regulates the number of characters per line and the number of lines per page on official court transcripts. It also establishes the per-page rate at which court reporters are to be paid. In 2006, it was $3.57 per page.

Stine and Probst even billed the Cherokee County clerk of superior court for transcripts that were not filed with the court.

“This was essentially a scheme to manipulate transcripts and invoices to collect more than was due,” said chief assistant district attorney Don Geary, who prosecuted the case.

The three women were indicted separately, each on a single count of racketeering, which alleges a pattern of criminal activity, Dec. 18.

All three of the defendants pleaded guilty during a two-hour hearing on Tuesday.

Cobb superior court judge Mary E. Staley told the defendants that as court employees, they should be held to a higher standard.

Stine was sentenced to eight months in jail, followed by eight years on probation. She was ordered to pay $225,000 in restitution, which she has already paid in full, and she was fined $1,000.

Probst was sentenced to four months in jail, followed by 10 years on probation. She was ordered to pay $50,000 in restitution, which she paid in full on Tuesday.

Petersen received six months in jail, followed by 10 years on probation, and she also was ordered to pay $50,000 in restitution.

Probst and Petersen also were each fined $1,000.

The Cherokee County sheriff’s office and the Cobb district attorney’s office conducted the investigation.