Allegations of Official Misconduct
District Clerk Resigns after Arrest for Child
Support Funds Theft
serving eleven years as a county employee and six years as the
Nacogdoches District Clerk, Donna Phillips
resigned last month after she was arrested on
charges she stole more than $15,000 from the child support account
Officers with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Texas
Rangers arrested Phillips at her home April 3rd, charging her with theft
by a public servant.
She was then arraigned by Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Dorothy
Tigner-Thompson, who set her bond at $8,500. Phillips was immediately
released after bonding out of jail.
At a press conference held in the commissioners courtroom packed with
many elected officials and county staff, District Attorney Stephanie
Stephens said the investigation into Phillip’s alleged crimes began
after County Auditor Keith Barber and his staff discovered some
"irregularities" in the child support account in Phillips' office.
"When their questions could not be answered satisfactorily, they
brought these matters to the attention of Nacogdoches County Attorney
Jeff Davis and myself," Stephens said. "At my request, an investigation
was begun by the Texas Rangers with the assistance of the Federal Bureau
The investigation showed that child support payments made in cash to the
office were never deposited into the official account, where the
payments are then passed to the custodial parent. Instead, money from
the general and trust accounts maintained in the district clerk's office
indicated that funds had been moved from those accounts into the child
support account "to cover the shortages," according to Phillips' arrest
"The audit conducted by Mr. Barber's office showed that
$15,758.16 was taken," Stephens said at the press conference. Adding,
"The investigation is not over; I think it's safe to say that there is a
little more work to be done and some loose ends that need to be tied
up." Stephens acknowledged that the $15,000 in missing money was only
for the year 2007.
In depth audits are currently being conducted by Barber and his staff
to see how far back the embezzlement started and if more money is
missing than the 2007 figure.
"They (the auditors) will keep going back until they find where it
started", Stephens said. She stressed that no parent appears to have
gone without child support funds because of this incident.
After her arrest, Phillips sent a handwritten note to County Judge
Joe English resigning from her position and admitting to "mistakes"
"I am very sorry for my wrongdoing, and regret that I have not served to
the best of my ability for the citizens and employees of the county,"
she wrote in the letter. "Forgive my mistakes, and thank you for your
kindness to me during the years."
According to an article published in The Daily Sentinel, Phillips
is no stranger to controversy. In July of 2002, before being
elected as district clerk, Phillips was reprimanded for distributing
fliers inviting some county employees to a private party where sexually
oriented items were sold. The fliers were printed on a courthouse copy
machine, but after the district attorney's office looked into the
allegations of misuse of government property, it was deemed
insignificant, costing the county only 17 cents.
Based on the evidence in the current case and what Phillips told
authorities, Stephens said they do not believe anyone else in the office
was a part of the crime. Phillips, whose annual salary was $42,732, now
faces the possibility of spending ten years in prison and paying a
$10,000 fine for the third degree felony.
District Judges Campbell Cox and Ed Klein have appointed Loretta
Cammack to take over the vacated District Clerk’s position until the
term ends in December 2008. Cammack ran against Phillips six years ago
for the Republican nomination for district clerk, but lost in the March
The Daily Sentinel