A longtime highly regarded Dougherty County human resources employee accused of stealing money from her church was back in her taxpayer-funded job within a week after her arrest, public records show.
County Administrator Richard Crowdis determined that Yolanda Pope’s criminal charges did not warrant her to be suspended or placed on a leave of absence, particularly because she hasn’t been indicted and her $32,800-a-year job does not involve handling money.
Pope, 52, administers the county’s health and life insurance programs. She is free on $5,000 bond.
“In the case of the July 12, 2010 arrest of county employee Yolanda Pope on felony charges for theft by taking from her former church, I have decided after deliberation and discussions with County Attorney Spencer Lee and Human Resources Director Alice Goseer Jenkins to not initiate any act of suspension at this time,” Crowdis said in a memorandum to county commissioners. “Ms. Pope is a 15-year employee with Dougherty County in the Human Resources Department. Her work record is very satisfactory with no personnel issues or controversy during this time. Her position as all others in HR is not accessible to county funds. I expect Ms. Pope to continue working diligently in her administrative duties.”
Crowdis said he will reconsider options under the county’s personnel policy after Pope’s case is presented to a grand jury.
Pope is charged with 27 counts of theft and fraud following a complaint by officials at her small south Dougherty County church, New Macedonia Baptist. She is the daughter of a former pastor of the church, and served as church treasurer in a volunteer capacity. In 2008, a church employee was charged with stealing about $30,000 from new Macedonia Baptist.
The case is being handled by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which says that Pope used a church automated teller machine card 21 times between 2007 and 2009 to illegally withdraw more than $6,000 in funds. She is charged with six counts of theft by receiving and 21 counts of financial transaction card theft.
Authorities say that Pope was not authorized to have the ATM card.
Pope, of Dawson, has a clean personnel record with glowing appraisals from Jenkins and letters of commendation.
In one situation, a county employee raved about Pope’s diplomatic skills.
“I came to you earlier today about dropping my insurance and just wanted to tell you I really appreciate you talking to me,” county employee Danny McMullen told her in a 2009 e-mail. “I was a little upset about the situation but after talking to you I really appreciate the job you do. I even made the comment at the drug unit you should assist the SWAT team as a negotiator due to your kind demeanor. You turned my entire day around for the better.”
McMullen’s feedback generated kudos by Crowdis and Jenkins.
“Great job! I thank you for your excellent customer service,” Crowdis wrote to Pope.