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SUNDAY, JUNE 24, 2007

Ex-Decatur clerk delinquent in payments on embezzlement

By Sheryl Marsh · 340-2437

A former clerk at Decatur City Hall, Earnestine Fletcher is delinquent in her payments on an eight-year embezzlement scheme in which she took about $200,000, but she has not stopped paying.

Morgan County Circuit Court records show that Fletcher has paid a total of $60,243 toward repayment of the stolen funds, which she confessed to taking in 1997.

Fletcher’s agreement to repay the money kept her from serving time in prison.

The most current payment of $1,111 was in March. It’s the only payment she’s made this year, records show.

A record of her payment history shows that Fletcher made four payments last year, and in 2005 she made eight.

A couple of times she paid less than the monthly installment, but she doubled the payments a couple of times, also, records show.

Fletcher began making payments in 1998 and at some point during 2004 she wrote Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson a letter asking for temporary relief.

She stated in the letter that she was experiencing health problems and asked the judge to defer the payments for a short time. Also, she said she was trying to recuperate from restoring her burned home.

She resumed making the monthly payments three months after the deferment, records show.

In 1997, Fletcher confessed that she embezzled the money from the city clerk’s office where she worked. Reportedly, she said the theft started in 1989 when she took funds from a cash register and manipulated landfill accounts to cover it.

After pleading guilty to theft, Thompson gave her a 15-year split sentence and ordered her to spend two days in jail. He suspended the remainder of the sentence and placed her on probation.

A payment schedule shows that Fletcher’s payoff date is February 2013. The current balance is $139,757.

Attempts to reach Fletcher by phone were unsuccessful.

Thompson stated in a court order that: “The court believed the citizens of Decatur would be better served by recovering their loss than seeing Ms. Fletcher in prison.

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