County suspends 16-year employee on indictments

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- Indicted by a Dougherty County grand jury on 21 counts of financial transaction card fraud and six counts of theft Wednesday, Yolanda Pope was suspended from her county job today.

A copy of the indictment was delivered to the county administrator this morning. He wasted no time in acting.

"I suspended her without pay because she was indicted by a jury of her peers," said Richard Crowdis, Dougherty County administrator. "It was an administrative decision."

Acting on multiple felony charges brought by Georgia Bureau of Investigation warrants, the 52-year-old Pope was arrested July 12 at the downtown Dougherty County Sheriff's Office for stealing more than $6,000 by use of a debit card. Without spending a night in jail she has been free on $5,000 bond since then.

According to the Georgia Criminal and Traffic Law Manual 2009-2010 edition, a person found guilty of financial fraud can face no less than one year, nor more than three years in prison and also pay a fine not to exceed $5,000 per count.

As a human resources administrator, Pope handled health insurance claims and issues for 650 county employees, Crowdis said. She had been employed with the county since Oct. 9, 1994, and made an annual salary of $32,850, he added.

Crowdis said, "In no way did she ever handle taxpayer money."

The crimes are alleged to have taken place while Pope was bookkeeper for the New Macedonia Baptist Church. No one at the church returned calls for information.