ALBANY, Ga. -- In November 2011, Morningside Elementary Principal Gloria Baker and her husband, John, were charged with school lunch fraud and were later indicted by a Dougherty Grand Jury.
The Bakers were 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.
One year later, the Bakers are still waiting for a trial date to be set. The case is being heard by Dougherty Superior Court Chief Judge Willie Lockette.
"If you are asking me if a trial date has been set, the answer is no." Gloria Baker's attorney, Howard Stiller, said. "I filed a demurrer (to dismiss) on Aug. 31 and Judge Lockette gave the state until Oct. 8 to respond. Well, Oct. 8 rolled around and the state did not respond, so I filed another motion and the judge set a Dec. 3 hearing date. We'll see what happens then."
Stiller said he suspects that South Georgia Judicial Circuit District Attorney Joe Mulholland, whose office is prosecuting Baker, saw Dougherty County School System Board member Velvet Riggins' acquittal earlier in a similar case and decided to rethink his strategy.
Stiller speculates that Mulholland might be trying "to re-wrap a bad present" and rework Gloria Baker's charges to present again to a grand jury.
The state's case against Gloria Baker is based on three free and reduced school meal applications filed in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Stiller says the state's problem is that Gloria Baker's name is not on any of the three applications.
John Baker's name and signature, in addition to one child, are on all three.
"The state will have to prove to a jury that she (Gloria Baker) didn't know her name was not listed on the application," Stiller said. "It's going to be tough selling a jury that she knew her name wasn't on the applications."
Stiller added the Riggins outcome also made things more difficult for the state.
"We've already had one verdict handed down in a similar case, and we all saw what happened there," Stiller said. "And we feel our case is even stronger than that one."
Shortly after her arrest, the School Board suspended Baker for 15 days without pay. The board eventually reassigned her to the South Georgia Regional Achievement Center, where Baker remains today.
A call to Mulholland requesting comment was not returned.