Criminal Justice

GA Judge Investigated, Allegedly Imposed Fees to Pay Workers

When officials in Clinch County, Georgia, decided to reduce several court workers’ duties—and their wages to match—six years ago, the judge in charge reportedly found an unorthodox way to make up the difference.

Brooks E. Blitch III, who serves as chief judge of the Alapaha Judicial Circuit, imposed a $10 fee in all criminal cases. Then he paid the money earned from the fees—a total of more than $67,000 since 2001—to several workers, in the same amount they had been getting previously from the county, according to the Associated Press.

The problem is, the judge’s spending plan apparently wasn’t approved by the Clinch County Commission or included in the court budget, and the income wasn’t reported to federal and state tax authorities, AP reports. Authorities have been investigating, after the commission found out about the payments in January. They reportedly amounted to between $250 and $300 monthly, and were paid to five court employees.

Brooks has served as a judge for 20 years in the sparsely populated county near the Georgia-Florida border. He is married to a former state senator.

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