By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The former Escambia County Worthless Check Coordinator for the Escambia County District Attorney’s Office, Monica Lynn Watson, was sentenced for her guilty plea to the charges of intentional misuse of her public position for unlawful personal gain for personal gain and committing second degree forgery immediately before her trial was to begin on April 16th. She allegedly misappropriated funds for her personal use and forged the District Attorney’s signature to dismiss cases against defendants.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said, “This case involves extensive documentation from the Examiners of Public Accounts of misuse of funds totaling $10,259. It is important that this defendant is being held to account and punished for her crimes for betraying the public trust and abusing government funds.”
Ms. Watson was sentenced to six years. The statement said, “Her sentence was split to serve 24 months which will follow a six-month probationary period. She was also ordered to perform 300 hours of community service and to pay a fine of $1,500 along with the costs of court.” Ms. Watson had already paid back the $10,259 and a review hearing is planned on November 13th.
The Escambia County District Attorney’s Office was audited by the Examiners of Public Accounts for the periods of Sept 1, 2006 to May 31, 2008. Discrepancies were found in the Worthless Check Unit (WCU) where Ms. Watson was the coordinator. Further investigation revealed that money had been received by the District Attorney’s Office, but never recorded by the WCU. Two money orders were deposited instead to Ms. Watson’s account at the credit union.
Persons had received handwritten receipts for cash payments, but they were not in the WCU records. The Examiner’s audit claimed that Watson filed motions to dismiss cases saying that those defendants had paid all the money owed when they had not. Those motions to dismiss were stamped with the District Attorney’s signature. The Examiner’s audit claims that $10,259 was unaccounted for. Ms. Watson at first denied taking the money; but later repaid the office.
Attorney General Luther Strange commended Assistant Attorney General Bill Lisenby and Stephanie Billingsley for handling the case. The AG also commended paralegal Lori Arnold. The three work in the AG’s Corruption and White Collar Crime Division. The Attorney General also thanked special agents with the Attorney General’s Investigations Division and Examiners of Public Accounts as well as the Escambia County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance in the successful prosecution.
Luther Strange was elected Alabama Attorney General in 2010 promising that the state’s Attorney General’s Office would take a more active role in corruption investigations.
To read Attorney General Strange’s statement in its entirety: