Deputy Brazos County Clerk Arrested on Theft ChargesFeatured Stories, News Tuesday, August 21st, 2012
Brazos County deputy clerk and elections coordinator Jaime Hines was arrested Tuesday on charges she stole money from the county clerk’s office related to fees for marriage certificates.
Hines, 31, turned herself into sheriff’s investigators and spent less than 10 minutes booked in Brazos County Jail. She is currently free on $5,000 bond.
County Clerk Karen McQueen says the irregularity was first brought to her attention by an employee who said they saw Hines issue a marriage license, but did not issue a receipt.
McQueen says Hines told her she had been taking money since August 2009 and, “once she started, she just couldn’t stop.”
Officials say Hines stole an estimated $17,500 in that time. She is charged with theft of more than $1,500, but less than $20,000.
The charge includes special circumstances. That means, because Hines was a public servant at the time of the alleged thefts, the charge is elevated to the next level.
Theft of $1,500, but less than $20,000 is a state jail felony. The special circumstances elevate the charges to a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Hines is on a combination of both paid and unpaid administrative leave until McQueen’s anticipated return from a conference in San Antonio on Thursday. Because Hines confessed to taking the money, there are grounds for her immediate termination, McQueen said.
Karen-McQueen-082112.mp3Karen McQueen talks with WTAW’s Chace Murphy
The following is a press release issued Tuesday afternoon by Brazos County Clerk Karen McQueen:
County Clerk Deputy, Jamie Hines of Bryan was arrested today for Theft $1,500 to $20,000 – by Public Servant (3rd degree felony)
The 12 + year Brazos County employee in the Brazos County Clerk’s Office, turned herself in to Sheriff’s Investigators.
County Clerk Karen McQueen began an internal investigation in mid July, 2012 when it was discovered that cash collected for the issuance of marriage licenses was not included in the cash drawer at the end of the day.
In the internal investigation, McQueen discovered that there were more instances where marriage licenses were issued, no receipts were documented and cash was not deposited in to the cash drawer. Marriage license application require a $72 fee.
On July 30, 2012 County Clerk McQueen met with Sheriff’s Office Investigators and reported the possibility that cash had been stolen from the County Clerk’s Office. McQueen continued to work with investigators, without revealing the investigation to staff, by providing the documents they needed for the investigation until a full understanding of the extent of the theft was revealed. According to investigators the theft amounted to approximately $17,500 over a 3 1/2 year period.
On August 11, 2012 Sheriff’s Office Investigator conducted interviews with Jamie Hines and other staff.
Following the interview with Jamie Hines’ she was placed on Administrative Suspension pending the conclusion of the investigation.
The Sheriff’s Office investigation continues.
NOTE – The theft of the cash payments does not affect the validity of any of the marriage licenses that were issued, all have been properly filed. County Clerk, Karen McQueen adds
“An internal investigation was started upon notification that the possiblity of a staff member not receipting funds. Upon completion of our investigation, we immediatly notified the Brazos County Sheriff’s office. We have worked deligently with the Sheriff’s investigators to give them access to the documents needed for their investigation. We are working to implement new procedues to assure that this does not happen again and we will be working with our County Auditor to determine if other actions will be needed. All couples who were issued a marriage license by Ms. Hines are not affected by this act.”
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