Hancock County Probate Judge Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement
Michael J. Moore, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia announced that Marva Rice, the Probate Judge for Hancock County, entered a guilty plea on Thursday to two counts of Theft of Federal funds from Hancock County, which receives federal funds. Rice faces a maximum sentence of up to ten years’ imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release.
Facts stipulated in the written plea agreements show the following:
The Hancock Probate Judge was responsible for collecting fines and fees and for depositing those funds into the Probate Court bank account. An investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed that in the year 2012, Rice failed to deposit funds in the amount of $43,864.70. In 2013, after the FBI was conducting its investigation, Rice used Hancock County funds to pay for her own personal legal fees, in the amount of $20,000.
Sentencing will take place in approximately sixty days.
“Election to public office is a sign of trust by the voters and the public in the integrity and honesty of those they choose to govern them. Theft of funds entrusted to you as an elected public official is not only a violation of that trust but erodes the faith of the people in government and elected officials generally. To steal further funds to defend yourself when caught is simply reprehensible,” said United States Attorney Michael J. Moore.
J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated: “Today’s guilty plea will begin the process of holding Hancock County Probate Judge Rice responsible for her criminal actions involving the embezzlement of public funds. The FBI will continue to aggressively pursue any and all allegations of similar such conduct by public officials attempting to divert public funds to their own bank accounts.”
The case was investigated by Special Agent Gregory McClendon of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Graham Thorpe.
For additional information please contact Pamela Lightsey, Public Affairs Specialist, United States Attorney’s Office at (478) 621-2603.