Arrest of court reporters spark more investigations

Cherokee County court reporters accused of stealing $485K

Three Cherokee County court reporters are accused of stealing more than $485,000 by billing for pages that didn’t exist, the Sheriff’s Office said Monday.

The investigation into the alleged billing irregularities began in mid-July at the request of District Attorney Shannon Wallace, according to Lt. Jay Baker. Investigators determined that three suspects were intentionally mis-formatting court records and receiving extra reimbursement, and believe the crimes date back to 2006, Baker said.

Betty Petersen, 73, and Kimberly Probst, 50, both of Woodstock, surrendered Sunday. Tammy Stine, 55, also of Woodstock, turned herself in Monday afternoon. All three have been charged with theft by taking, theft by deception, giving false statements and racketeering.

Investigators allege Probst stole $59,821, Peterson stole $79,229, and Stine stole $346,676 from the county.

Court reporters must be certified to work in Georgia and are regulated by the Board of Court Reporting, which can revoke certificates for misconduct, according to the board’s website. State laws regulate the amount court reporters can charge, such as a per page cost for transcripts.

Additionally, court transcripts must follow strict formatting guidelines, according to state rules. For example, each page must have at least 25 lines, and each line must have at least 63 available spaces, online rules state.

Petersen was released later Sunday by a magistrate’s order and Probst remained in custody Monday afternoon at the Cherokee County jail, where she was being held on $183,939 bond, Baker said. Stine’s bond was set at $253,827. She remained in custody early Monday night.

The District Attorney’s Office declined to discuss the case, which remains under investigation.