Four accused of fraud in Washington Co. released on bond

Published 3:34 pm Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Four Washington County deputy clerks accused of allowing some people buy motor vehicle tags at lower rates will remain suspended without pay pending the outcome of their cases, Tax Collector Patricia Lee says.

Lee’s eight-clerk staff was reduced in half with the suspensions.

“It hurts,” Lee said. “We’re functioning. It just takes longer. It’s more work on other people.”

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Lee said she has no plans to hire temporary workers.

The four women, who had worked in the collector’s office from three to six years, were arrested July 20 by the state attorney general’s office.

The four allegedly changed the addresses on automobile registration forms from city to county, which reduced the taxes on the vehicle, according to the charges.

Someone living outside the city of Greenville can save about $300 or more on a tag for a 2006 or 2007 vehicle as compared to what a city resident would pay, Lee said.

Charged are Mary Jane McClain, 51; Deloris Trotter, 50; and Diann Gooden, 36, all of Leland; and Brenda Green, 36, of Greenville.

They were released Friday on $10,000 bond each after an initial court appearance.

Each is charged with one count of defrauding the state and faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. No trial date has been set.

Lee has said she doesn’t know what led to the probe or how much tax revenue is in question. The attorney general’s office, citing the investigation, would not release more information.

The allegations against McClain covered Jan. 10, 2006, to March 29 and for Trotter from Aug. 21, 2006, until June 30. Allegations against Green covered Aug. 31, 2006, until June 29, and the period for Gooden was May 8, 2006, until June 25, according to affidavits.