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Second Jefferson County Clerk Quits Amid State Probe

Aug-29-07

Jefferson County, Arkansas -- Circuit Clerk Annette Branch has left her job in the middle of a state police investigation into unauthorized withdrawals from a county fund.

Branch, who took office Jan. 1, resigned August 17 after her attorney delivered a resignation letter to Jefferson County Judge Mike Holcomb.
 

 

Holcomb says Branch withdrew funds from the county without authorization. Holcomb did not specify how much money was improperly withdrawn, but he said Branch repaid the money, according to a recent report by KATV News.

Branch is the second Jefferson County circuit clerk in 29 months to resign after allegations of fiscal mismanagement.

Former Jefferson County Circuit Clerk Jeanette Hence resigned in April 2005 after her arrest on a misdemeanor charge of attempting to commit tampering with a public record. She was accused of misspending more than $14,000. That charge stemmed from an Arkansas Legislative Audit Division report accusing Hence of using more than $ 14, 077 in county funds to service her personal car, adorn her house and church with furniture, and pay Rotary Club dues and credit-card fees.

Jefferson County Quorum Court appointed Deputy Clerk Flora Cook to serve as circuit clerk in Branch’s absence. Cook was also appointed to the job after Hence resigned in 2005.

Holcomb applauded county employees who first brought attention to the situation. He said the employees acted as a safety net for the county by noticing discrepancies in the county fund and addressing the situation.

“ The system worked,” Holcomb told reporters with the Arkansas-Democrat Gazette.

“The employees noticed something that was wrong and responded. Jefferson County didn’t do anything wrong. One person in Jefferson County made a bad decision, and it’s been corrected,” he said.

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