ALBANY, Ga. -- Lawyers arguing the case of a principal in the Dougherty County School System indicted on charges that she and her husband falsified applications for free or reduced lunch for their children, will likely have until mid-October to argue why the indictment against the pair should be tossed out and, if it stands, why the charges against them shouldn't be heard by jurors in Albany.
Gloria and John Baker stand indicted on charges they knowingly filed false free applications for free or reduced student lunches for their children for the 2009-2010 school year even though Gloria Baker made more than $92,000 that year as principal at Morningside Elementary.
U.S. Department of Agriculture income eligibility guidelines adopted in July of last year state that for a household of three, the income cap is $24,089 per year before taxes.
Friday, attorneys for the Bakers filed motions to dismiss the indictment, ask for a change of venue for the trial, and to seek individual questioning of prospective jurors during pre-trial.
Among the reasons given for the indictment to be dismissed is an argument that the language on the application itself doesn't adhere to federal guidelines. Defense attorneys contend that the application's warning that applicants who falsify information "may be prosecuted," isn't sufficient.
Prosecutors filed a motion to include as evidence other free or reduced lunch applications from additional years as "similar transactions."
After hearing discussion on the motions, Chief Superior Court Judge Willie Lockette deferred judgement on the motions until mid-October, giving lawyers time to file answers to the motions.
Gloria Baker was indicted on three counts of public record fraud, two counts of theft by taking and two counts of providing false information to obtain free school meals for a child.
John Baker was indicted on two counts of public record fraud, one count of theft by taking and two counts of providing false information to obtain free lunch for a child.
Baker has been with the school system since 1980 and was promoted to assistant principal in 1993. She was promoted to principal at Albany Middle School in 2004 and was assigned to Morningside last year.