Dougherty County School Board member Velvet Riggins gets into a waiting vehicle shortly after being booked on two counts of falsifying information on a school lunch application and one felony count of offense by a public official.
ALBANY — Dougherty County School Board member Velvet Riggins was booked at the Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office Friday morning on charges related to allegations that she falsified information on a school lunch application.
She is charged with one felony count of offense by a public official, and two misdemeanor counts of falsifying information on a free or reduced cost school lunch application.
The one count of offense by a public official carries a $5,000 bond, and the two other counts each have a bond of $1,000. She was booked and released on a personal recognizance bond.
The charges against Riggins come on the heels of similar charges against Morningside Principal Gloria Baker, who was charged last month, along with her husband, Charles, with falsifying lunch applications.
The cases are similar except that as a public official Riggins is also charged with a felony, specifically Georgia statute 45-11-1 (a), which reads in part: “If any public officer or other person shall steal, embezzle, alter, corrupt, withdraw, falsify, or avoid any record, process, charter, gift, grant, conveyance, or contract ... he shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment and labor in the penitentiary for not less than two years nor more than ten years.”
School system attorney Tommy Coleman said on Wednesday that the board’s options are limited in regard to possible discipline against Riggins even if the allegations are proven to be true.
“The board does not have the power to remove her from office, only the Governor’s Office has that power and only if she is convicted of a felony.” said Coleman. “The most the board can do is censure her.”
Because of the felony charge, the complaint will be forwarded Gov. Nathan Deal’s office. Deal will then appoint an administrative tribunal comprised of Attorney General Sam Olens and two school board members from outside Dougherty County.
That tribunal would investigate the charges and recommend to the governor whether Riggins should be from office until the case is resolved.
Riggins has retained the services of Albany attorney Mark Brimberry.