Susan Peppers Hardy, a former employee of the Oconee River Soil and Water Conservation District (District), pleaded guilty yesterday in Barrow County Superior Court to 43 counts of Forgery in the First Degree (O.C.G.A. § 16-9-1). Between April 2006 and October 2009, Hardy stole over $29,000.00 from the District. She was sentenced by Judge David Motes to ten years, two of which she will serve in prison. The remaining eight years will be spent on probation.
Hardy was a part-time secretary at the District office in Winder. After noticing inconsistencies in monthly expenditure reports prepared by Hardy, the treasurer of the District Board approached her, only to find that the original bank statements which could clarify the situation were missing. Shortly thereafter, Hardy admitted to the treasurer and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) that she had stolen the money through a variety of schemes involving forgery. These included altering the amount of properly signed paychecks made out to her and the creation of new paychecks with a forgery of the appropriate signer's name.
In addition to prison and probation, Hardy was ordered to pay $29,087.25 in restitution to the District for the money she stole, and $1095.00 to the District for the charges incurred by hiring a private accounting firm to audit their books after her theft was discovered.
Assistant Attorney General Daniel Hiatt prosecuted the case on behalf of the State of Georgia. The case was investigated by Special Agent Sara R. Thomas of the GBI.