City Clerk Of Hampton, Florida, Arrested After $19,000 Disappears
The former city clerk of Hampton, Florida, is being accused of stealing $19,000 from the city's water fund.
Special agents arrested Jane Hall on Tuesday at her home. She was booked into the Bradford County Jail on a $35,000 bond.
Last year, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement started investigating what happened to money after residents paid their water bills.
Special Agent Supervisor Travis Smith says the task wasn’t easy.
“It was a very difficult, complex investigation. The records were not kept very well at all,” he said.
From 2010 to 2013, Hall is accused of going months without depositing customer payments into the city’s water fund account. During the same time period, Hall and her staff failed to consistently provide receipts to residents after they paid their water bills.
The investigation found Hall cashed some paychecks out of the water fund payment bag. Hall also told auditors and coworkers she could not cash her paychecks for several months because of insufficient funds in Hampton’s general fund. However, the investigation shows the general fund account had the necessary funds for payroll. Hall would eventually issue replacement checks to herself, which amounted in double payments of nearly $3,000.
In the end, Smith says it was clear: the person in charge of the water money, Jane Hall, had been skimming some off the top.
“You show up at the beginning of the month to pay your water bill, you show up with cash, and we think that a lot of those cash payments never made it to the city’s water fund,” he said.
The tiny town of Hampton is on U.S. 301 between Starke and Waldo, southeast of Jacksonville.
Hall's arrest is the latest fallout from an investigation that had late-night comedians calling Hampton the "most corrupt town in America" last year. It narrowly avoided being dissolved by the Legislature last year after widespread mismanagement was uncovered.
Updated 8/25/2015 5:03 p.m. to include interview with Special Agent Supervisor Travis Smith.