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JP clerk arrested for theft

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Posted: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 12:41 pm

A clerk of a Colorado County justice of the peace was reportedly arrested earlier this month after being charged with theft.

Becky Gonzales, 48, of East Bernard, turned herself in Aug. 12 on the charge of felony theft of property by a public servant, greater than or equal to $1,500 but less than $20,000. She had been serving as a clerk in the office of Justice of the Peace George Cason.

Gonzales was a clerk and Colorado County employee for approximately 11 years. According to Eagle Lake Police Chief Bill Lattimore, Lt. David Wiese received a call from Colorado County Attorney Ken Sparks about an investigation that began by Cason when a resident came forward with proof that he had paid a fine despite receiving notice that he hadn’t paid the county his dues.

When Cason asked Gonzales about the situation, Lattimore says that Gonzales confessed to stealing the money.

At 9:15 a.m. on Aug. 12, Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Francis Truchard issued an arrest warrant for Gonzales. Within a few hours, Gonzales turned herself in at approximately 12:30 p.m.

Lattimore said Gonzales confessed to devising a system in which fined residents would make cash payments to her and the fined residents would not receive notices to pay. However, in the incident that sparked Cason’s investigation, Gonzales took a payment from a fined resident but made a mistake that resulted in the correct procedure of that resident receiving a notice to pay.

Gonzales’ charge of theft by a public servant is a third degree felony. She was released on $15,000 bond.

The entire incident left Cason hurt in terms of the trust he had for his employee. The situation also left Lattimore with concerns in how the public will perceive the people that serve their government.

“It erodes the trust of the public towards the law enforcement community,” said Lattimore. “It’s a trust that (we) just have to build back up.”

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