3-21 Chandler.tiff

Allegations of possible criminal wrongdoing in the Baldwin County Superior Court Clerk’s Office have surfaced and are under investigation by a state law enforcement agency, The Union-Recorder has learned.

Mary Chandler, special agent in-charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Region 6 Office in Milledgeville, confirmed Friday afternoon that the agency is investigating.

Chandler said she received a telephone call last Wednesday from Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney T. Wright Barksdale III to took into the allegations.

“I received information, credible information from multiple people about the Baldwin County Superior Court Clerk’s Office,” Barksdale told the newspaper last week.

Chandler said it had been reported that someone in the office “had inappropriately filed, did not file or altered governmental and judicial documents.”

“We since have forwarded this to our GBI Office of Special Investigations (OSI),” Chandler said.

Barksdale said he has recused himself from the case because he had reason to believe that he and members of his staff could at some point be interviewed or called as witnesses.

“I recused myself from the case immediately after requesting the GBI look into these allegations,” Barksdale said.

He said he also contacted an official with the Georgia Prosecuting Attorney’s Counsel.

Barksdale said he understood that the PAC official then contacted the Attorney General’s Office.

“As I understand it, the Attorney General’s Office has accepted position of guiding the GBI with any legal questions they may have as they continue to investigate this situation,” Barksdale said.

The newspaper also has learned that Baldwin County Superior Court Clerk Mitch Longino has reportedly taken a leave from the office and that Chief Deputy Clerk Kimberly Brown is also away from the office. As of Monday afternoon, it was not known whether their absences from the office were related to the ongoing investigation or for other reasons.

Attempts by the newspaper to reach both of them for comments by press time Monday were unsuccessful.

The clerk’s office is being overseen by Cinda Bright, who recently retired as the longtime clerk of Wilkinson County Superior Court. Shelia Perry, the longtime clerk of Putnam County Superior Court, is assisting with duties in the Baldwin County Superior Court Clerk’s Office.

A deputy clerk told the newspaper last Friday afternoon that Bright indicated she could not comment about anything because she was not authorized to do so.

Chandler said the GBI OSI unit is being assisted by special agents from the local GBI office in conducting interviews of employees of the Baldwin County Superior Court Clerk’s Office.

“We are helping OSI on this investigation but they will take lead on it,” Chandler said. “We’re already involved in conducting some interviews.”

She declined to name persons whose name may be associated with the probe.

“I don’t want to make any comments about that at the moment,” Chandler said. “We’ll interview everybody. They are going to look into all the allegations that have been alleged.”

She said it was understanding that the GBI’s OSI will look at everything that goes on within the Baldwin County Superior Court Clerk’s Office.

The independent investigation could reveal criminal wrongdoings or it may reveal nothing criminally has gone on within the office.

“We won’t know any of that until the investigation has been conducted and completed,” Chandler said.

She said once the investigation is complete, the findings will be written up in a case file and presented to the Georgia Attorney General’s Office for review before being turned over to a special prosecutor since Barksdale has recused himself from the case.

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