Criminal Justice

Clerk Pleads Guilty to Secret Payments

A county courthouse clerk in Georgia has pleaded guilty to felony mail fraud for paying county employees with improper fees collected from criminal defendants.

The clerk, Daniel V. Leccese Sr., faces up to two years in prison and a fine as high as $250,000, according to the Fulton County Daily Report. He has resigned from his job.

Prosecutors claim Leccese paid himself nearly $18,000 out of more than $73,000 fees collected on orders of a judge, the Associated Press reports.

Barry Hart, vice chairman of the Clinch County Commission, told the legal newspaper that Alapaha Chief Judge Brooks E. Blitch III ordered imposition of $10 fees to fund the payments.

FBI agents searched Blitch’s office last month. Court filings in Leccese’s case refer to a co-conspirator who issued the fee order, but do not name the judge. Blitch did not return phone calls for comment.

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