Former Lumpkin County Senior Center Director Gail Monroe wants people to know she is innocent of any crime, she told The Nugget this week.
“I don’t want my job back, and I don’t want to sue the county. I just want people to know I am innocent,” she said.
Monroe retired last week after a second theft of county funds from the center was discovered on the last day of December. Earlier in the month, over $650 was found to be missing from a bank bag sent to the county for deposit.
The first time money went missing from the center was in October. That money disappeared from a locked donation box in the great room at the center, Monroe said.
“The lock was broken on the box,” Monroe said. “And the same day the massage therapist came and told me money was missing from her drawer. I reported both thefts.”
The money involved, however, was not county funds and the only thing Alicia Davis, Monroe’s immediate supervisor, discussed with Monroe was replacing the lock on the box.
“I also took [the box] out of the great room and moved it closer to my office,” Monroe said.
The second theft occurred Dec. 5. Monroe and two of her employees went to Athens for training that day, leaving only two to cover the center. While they were gone, one of the two left to do some shopping for the seniors, leaving only one person to oversee the seniors visiting the center.
“My d“My door was open most of the day,” Monroe said. “When I got in from Athens I reached in my desk drawer to get the deposit out and sent it with an employee to administration. There were two bank bags. Then the finance department called me and said there were only coins and checks in one of the bags. I put the phone down and looked in the file drawer, and saw that there were twenty dollar bills missing from petty cash.”
At that point the county changed the locks on the center’s exterior doors, installed a safe in Monroe’s office and met with Monroe about new procedures for handling cash.
At the meeting, Monroe said, “I offered to give them the money to offset what was stolen. I gave them a check because I felt so bad. They said that was like an admission of guilt.”
Monroe said she was shocked that her co-workers would think that of her.
“I just started crying. That wasn’t my intention. I just felt so bad about it,” she said.
The next day, Monroe was called in by the sheriff’s office for an interview.
Previously, she said, the entire staff had taken a voice stress test.
“I thought that’s what the interview was about, that they were going to tell me the results. But they told me they felt like I did it.”
After a long interview the investigator said taking a polygraph was the next step.
“I wanted to take that polygraph and prove my innocence,” she said.
About a week passed before the test was administered. It was a very stressful week, Monroe said.
It became even more stressful when during that time more money went missing—this time from the locked safe.
“Any time any of us put money in or opened the safe,” Monroe said, “there were two of us present. But when I unlocked the bank bag, there was only a couple of quarters in there. I couldn’t believe it.”
Two days later she took the polygraph test, which she was told she passed.
County Manager Stan Kelley said Monroe will not be the only employee to be asked to take a polygraph test, and the case is still under investigation. But, he said, “In my opinion, and this is just my opinion, not an official law enforcement statement, once she passed the polygraph she was no longer a suspect in my eyes.”
Monroe said that’s what she wants people to know.
“Basically, I want them to know that I’m innocent. I did choose to retire, but with the kind of pressure I was under, I think anyone would have. I appreciate all the support the community has given me over the years, and I am looking forward to an enjoyable retirement.”