Friday, May 6, 2016

Chatham County probate clerk who admitted theft sues to get her pension restored


SAVANNAH | Convicted former Chatham County Probate Court Chief Clerk Kim Birge has challenged the denial of her county pension benefits based on her conviction.

The challenge was filed Thursday in Chatham County Superior Court for Birge and her husband, Lawrence Franklin Birge. It named Chatham County acting through the Chatham County Pension Board.

It asks a judge to review the facts and hold a hearing to require the pension board to show why it should not be required to provide Birge with her pension.

Birge, 62, worked for the county and was a member of the retirement plan from July 19, 1982, until she was terminated Dec. 2, 2014.

She pleaded guilty in federal court on July 31, 2015, to stealing $232,000 from the court as part of a scheme in which the government said she stole more than $750,000 over a three-year period.

She was sentenced to six years in federal prison and ordered to make restitution of more than $750,000 for her admission to stealing $232,000 from the court.

As part of the plea to the mail fraud count, prosecutors dismissed the remaining counts in the indictment.

A pre-sentencing investigation identified 33 individual victims, two estates and Chatham County Probate Court that suffered losses as the result of her conduct.

U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. said the 36 victims suffered actual losses, adding that none of the funds ever belonged to the court.

He set the actual restitution in the case at $751,715.95.

Chatham County officials contend Birge stole $890,000 from individuals and another $113,000 from Chatham County.

At her sentencing, Birge told Moore she “wanted to ask forgiveness for everybody who has been affected by my wrongdoing. … I am ashamed and embarrassed.”

The petition seeking her pension, filed by attorney Walter Bellow III, said she applied for her benefits under the Chatham County Employees Retirement Plan on Jan. 5, 2015, and was denied on Jan. 26, 2015.

She appealed and was denied March 30.

Her suit said denial of her pension is “unreasonable, capricious and arbitrary and an illegal attempt to exercise discretion which is clearly forbidden by Georgia law.”

The county argued that the pension contained criminal conduct violations of which “are specifically contemplated” in the county’s plan.

Those violations include convictions for theft, sabotage, embezzlement, and fraud.

Further, the pension plan mandates that the pension board “reduce any sum to Ms. Birge by three times the amount of the economic impact of her crime. … That sum is far above that is available for the board to seize.”

At Birge’s sentencing hearing, Clarence Bynes Jr. – one of Birge’s 33 individual victims – told Moore that, “This is atrocious. … There was no fear here. ... This was just greed. Why would anyone do this to young kids. ... Ms. Birge should be ashamed.”

He told the judge he lost $217,000 with Probate Court from the sale of his father’s house. He did not learn of the theft until the day he went to claim the money and was told his money was gone.
“I’m sorry. ... Your honor, this is not fair,” Bynes said.

Full Article & Source:
Chatham County probate clerk who admitted theft sues to get her pension restored

4 comments:

Tina said...

And the sad thing is she'll probably get it.

Katie said...

Yep!

Anonymous said...

Hope she loses.

Elle Lang said...

No way should this sh*tbag
Receive a pension! She paid herself forward and should be grateful she's alive.
The sentencing on on these criminals is way to light!
And she has the F***king audacity to demand a pension! I hope they throw the book at her and she gets 20 yrs,it's what she
deserves!