2 local Parks & Rec workers arrested & fired

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

SUMTER COUNTY, GA (WTVM) -  Things just weren't adding up in books for the Sumter County Parks and Recreation Department.

According to county officials, internal checks and balances were out of whack.

That's when the department turned things over to the police.

"Our investigators went out and were able to determine that there was some monies missing from that account," said Sumter County Sheriff Pete Smith.

47-year-old Patricia Crawley, the office manager, and 35-year-old Priscilla West, another Parks & Rec employee, were arrested and fired. Both are charged with theft by taking.

According to officials, the women would skim money of the top of the revenue the department was taking in then turn in a smaller amount. When questioned by authorities, the sheriff says the duo owned up to the crime.

"They readily admitted to what had been done. They knew they had been caught and they admitted to it. We think that it started out as several hundred dollars and then it went from there to several thousand dollars and then some of this money has been put back into the accounts and that's what made it a little more difficult to track these funds," Sheriff Smith said.

So far, the sheriff says investigators have traced the thefts back to 2008.

"People are desperate. They're having a hard time making ends meet in so many ways but I think sometimes the temptation is so great. I'm just sorry that they chose to take this route," he added.

Patricia Crawley and Priscilla West are out of jail on bond.

The sheriff says his detectives are still investigating the case to see if the thefts go back even further in the books.

©2010 WTVM. All rights reserved.