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Judge defers decision on venue, indictment in principal fraud case

Gloria and Chester Baker

Gloria and Chester Baker

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.

Comments

waltspecht 1 year, 11 months ago

Now lets get this straight. To me there is no doubt they knew they weren't entitled, yet put in for it anyway. Now they are hoping for a technicality that they, despite their education, didn't know they could be prosecuted for stealing this money. Now they want Jurors to be individually questioned, and a change in venue to make this trail cost absorbanent amounts of money so the Prosecution will settle for a lesser charge. It could also be the charges and paperwork were rigged from the start to end with a non-result. Wouldn't be the first time this dodge was used in South-west Georgia.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 11 months ago

2016 Obama's America is now playing at the movies in Albany. Better go see it quick, y'all.

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B4it 1 year, 11 months ago

Defense attorneys contend that the application's warning that applicants who falsify information "may be prosecuted," isn't sufficient.

So if they do not understand this pretty simple statement, maybe the DoCo School Admin needs to rethink whether principal Baker even needs to be an employee in the school system, much less, a principal. Standards for portraying right and wrong must be expected and increased for those who are put in positions of leadership.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 11 months ago

Who are the defense attorneys? I am glad Judge Lockette didn't recuse himself. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if a venue change was ordered. As a taxpayer I want them to be charged and convicted of stealing food from the table of hungry children. And as for the jail house door Lockette and throw away the key.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 11 months ago

Also note that in the case of Velveeta Riggins Stephen Goss is the judge. Glad there was no recusal there.

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Jimboob 1 year, 11 months ago

A well known liar and thief...

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VSU 1 year, 11 months ago

Stealing is stealing anyway you look at it. Didn't know they could be prosecuted for stealing lunch money. B.S. If they didn't know that, how did they get that job in the first place. Wait, this is Albany...nevermind.

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PatriotAlum 1 year, 11 months ago

Seems the School System has deeply serious issues. Principals lying on Aid applications and defense is that 'the warning was not explicit enough'? Principals encouraging teachers to cheat on exams. Did not these people go to College? Was there no such thing as an Honor Code that made cheating a punishable a university crime? Thank Godnthis happened after I graduated.

Have to wonder how students can look up to these teachers and administrators and respect them as role models with a dark cloud over these people.

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Jimboob 1 year, 11 months ago

I will not lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate those that do. Pretty simple isn't it.

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Amazed2 1 year, 11 months ago

The Bakers live on a beautiful multi-acre gated estate in NW Dougherty County. Complete with swimming pool and modern horse barn and stables. Amazing how they can afford to feed horses but had to file for assistance to feed the human child or children

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 11 months ago

.........and that they were not educated or cognizant enough to comprehend " the FMA application's warning that applicants who falsify information may be prosecuted".

Do people this stupid deserve to be DoCo School Principals or DoCo Business Owners? Can they be trusted to understand reality and interpret proper behavioral and business ethics? Or was it their version of "gittin my Reparations my own self"? You decide.

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Amazed2 1 year, 11 months ago

Well it sposed to be free cause great great great great great grandaddy was sold into slavery by his black native enemies.

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Jimboob 1 year, 11 months ago

I hope it doesn't just "pass", as you say. How can any self respecting person look at this and not be repulsed.

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RedEric 1 year, 11 months ago

Bubba, the only thing fading away is the guilt trip America has been on the last few decades. When so many people are out of work and with no chance of re-establishing their life plans this type of fraud Carreys more weight than it did a very few years ago. people like this have ridden that guilt trip to prosperity and former working people don't like it. How is it that people who claim to be Christian lie without restraint? Fraud is lying. These people ,Velvet, Pastor/Minister/Bishop Heard are liars. I don't care if you think the ends justify the means, IT IS LYING! Lying to get welfare is lying. It is one of the ten commandments. Christians have to obey All Ten. You cannot choose a few that are handy and ignore others that are inconvenient. Oh, by the way forget the race card with me as I cannot afford that guilt trip.

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ConcernedVoter 1 year, 11 months ago

This is not the sort of role model that I think the school system should have. The entire school system seems to have a serious problem with integrity. I'm sure not everyone is participating in illegal ventures, but certainly those who have been exposed should not be offered up as the standard which the school wishes to aid and abet. Cheating is a rampant problem among the students across the U.S. The sin, it seems, is getting caught, not commiting the act. I wonder where the students are learning to perfect their cheating skills?

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gradin78 1 year, 10 months ago

I don't begrudge anyone who falls on hard times and tries (yes TRIES) to apply for assistance to help until they can get back on their feet. What I do begrudge is not qualifying for any assistance because of a few dollars too much then being denied for SSI when you've paid into SS since the age of 12!! I've been told that children as young as 3 can get SSI because they are "crazy"!! That really blew my mind! The system is so unfair! I agree with Waltspecht. Public records show since 2008 that Ms. Baker was making over $90K and should have NEVER filed for free/reduced lunches.

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Amazed2 1 year, 10 months ago

I imagine she raised in a welfare or goverment program household so at an early age she was taught to expect money from the government programs. She should be proud of getting an education and making $92000/yr as a Principal instead she is an educated highly compensated educator caught red handed with both hands and her whole head stuck in the cookie jar taking somebody elses cookies. Most likely a person that thinks it is ok has roots that run deep into government programs at least 2 to 3 generations

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bubbasmithredneck 1 year, 10 months ago

(yawn)......you are just jealous.......get over it

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