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Attorney General Baker Announces Guilty Pleas From Former Georgia 400 Toll Authority Employees

PRESS ADVISORY

Attorney General Baker Announces Guilty Pleas From Former Georgia 400 Toll Authority Employees

May 3, 2006

Attorney General Thurbert Baker announced today that his office had obtained guilty pleas from the final defendant in a theft case involving refund accounts at the State Road and Tollway Authority. Two former clerks at the Tollway Authority, Charlene Bryant and Carlton Martin, oversaw the issuance of $50 refunds to businesses that returned their CruiseCards to the Tollway Authority. During the course of their employment, Bryant and Martin began to issue fraudulent refunds into their own bank accounts as well as the bank accounts of an acquaintance of Martin.

Their scheme was begun in March 2001 and continued until December 2002. The state first became aware of the scheme in December 2002 when a supervisor noticed a discrepancy in Bryant’s accounts on a day that Bryant was out on sick leave. The supervisor determined that Bryant’s refund accounts did not balance, and a subsequent investigation revealed the same problems with Martin’s accounts. During the 22 month-long fraud, Martin received $5,556 in fraudulent refunds and Bryant received $15,706 in fraudulent refunds.

Attorney General Baker charged Bryant and Martin with Conspiracy to Defraud the State (OCGA 16-10-21) and Theft by Taking by Government Employee (OCGA 16-8-2/16-8-12), both felonies under Georgia law. Martin pled guilty in January 2006 and received a 10 year sentence, plus he was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and ordered to pay restitution to the State of Georgia.

Charlene Bryant entered her guilty plea in front of Judge Tom Campbell of Fulton Superior Court on Tuesday, May 2. She also received a 10 year sentence, plus she was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and ordered to pay restitution to the State of Georgia. Attorney General Baker applauded the sentences handed down against the two former state employees, calling the felony convictions “an appropriate punishment for the complete breach of the public trust by these former state employees.”

Assistant Attorney General Kim Schwartz handled the prosecution of the case on behalf of the State, and Agents Ryan Gainor and Jack Vickery of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation led the State’s investigation.