Detention center official charged with forgery

Hall County deputies have arrested the business manager of the Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center on nine counts of forging documents.

Lakita Edwards was arrested at her home after state Department of Juvenile Justice investigators charged her with making false acknowledgements or oaths by an authorized officer, the department announced Saturday.

The department says Edwards forged the signature of a detention center official on job application background packets. They also say she applied unauthorized notary seals to the packets and submitted them to the department’s central office for processing.

The alleged forgeries were discovered when a Department of Juvenile Justice employee determined the person whose signature was forged was on extended leave when the pre-employment packets were submitted.

“Our investigators found there was no way the (official) could have signed and sealed those packets while away on leave,” department Commissioner Avery D. Niles said in a statement issued Saturday. He said a closer examination uncovered nine job applicant packets with forged signatures and unauthorized seals.

The department reviewed all pre-employment documents during the time period in question and concluded no viable job applicants received special treatment or were negatively affected by the forgeries.

Niles said the alleged forgeries were an isolated incident by an employee who acted alone. He said there is no evidence Edwards sought or received any personal gain from the forgeries.

Bond for Edwards was set at $9,000. She has been suspended pending further administrative action. Niles said the investigation continues.

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