Theft of some $600,000 leads to arrest

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Aug. 19—A Milledgeville Housing Authority employee has been arrested and accused of stealing approximately $600,000 in government funds, The Union-Recorder has learned.

Milledgeville Police Department Chief Dray Swicord confirmed Thursday afternoon that an arrest was made earlier in the day.

Swicord identified the suspect as Jennifer Kay Smith.

The suspect was taken into custody at her home in Putnam County at about 9 a.m.

Milledgeville Police Detective Phillip Vinson and uniformed officers went to the suspect's residence on the 100 block of Rockville Springs Road in Eatonton to arrest her on four counts of felony theft by taking, Swicord said. They were accompanied by deputies with the Putnam County Sheriff's Office.

Smith was questioned and later taken to the Baldwin County Law Enforcement Center where she was jailed.

Swicord said police received information about the alleged crimes last week, which indicated that federal funds were misused at the local housing authority.

Carrie Jarrett, director of real estate and property manager at the Milledgeville Housing Authority, told Milledgeville Police Officer Raymond Borders on Aug. 11 about the reported misuse of funds.

Jarrett told police that Smith was the previous administrator who handled all the monetary and payroll accounts.

"She stated no one had access to the accounts except J. Smith," Borders said in his report. "C. Jarrett stated she was finally able to get access to the accounts due to [Smith] being out sick."

Borders said Jarrett told him that when she began looking into the payroll accounts, she discovered that Smith "had knowingly paid herself more than she was entitled."

Jarrett told police there were multiple records of fraudulent payments.

"The person who has been arrested was the only person who had access to the funds," Swicord said, noting the suspect had worked as finance director at the local housing authority.

The police chief said he understood that somewhere in the vicinity of $600,000 was stolen.

"From what we've been able to determine at this time, it's close to $600,000," Swicord said.

The investigation also involved a federal law enforcement agency.

Swicord said detectives had requested assistance from the U.S. Secret Service Office in Macon.

"We asked for some tracking information from that agency," Swicord said.