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Former Grovetown city clerk arrested for theft of thousands of dollars from Grovetown Lions Club

Posted: August 16, 2017 - 1:55am
Capetillo
Capetillo

Former Grovetown City Clerk Vicky Capetillo was arrested and charged with theft by taking in two incidents regarding misappropriating thousands of dollars from a fundraiser through the Grovetown Lions Club, where she served as treasurer.

According to the Columbia County sheriff's office, two warrants were issued for Capetillo Aug. 11. The first warrant states that Capetillo took approximately $13,000 from the Lions Club's Turkey Shoot fundraiser event held between Sept. 18, 2015, and Dec. 12, 2015.

A second warrant also states that Capetillo misappropriated another "$7,000 in funds collected at Turkey Shoot fundraising events held between Sept. 23, 2016, and Dec. 17, 2016."
Capetillo was arrested Saturday, Aug. 12, and released on $5,200 bond, according to Columbia County sheriff's Maj. Steve Morris.

A search warrant was executed at Capetillo's home in January regarding the missing funds, though no arrest was made at that time.

According to previous reports by the Columbia County News-Times and the Augusta Chronicle, authorities received complaints regarding the missing money. The complaint, and an ongoing federal investigation in which Capetillo is currently a prime suspect regarding embezzlement of city funds, led to the execution of the search warrant.

Capetillo, who served as Grovetown's city clerk for over a decade, is at the center of a separate federal investigation involving embezzlement of city funds from the water utility billing department that Capetillo oversaw.

After the investigation began, several Grovetown residents filed a class action lawsuit against the city regarding the unlawful alteration of utility rates and fees. The city agreed to a settlement of $1.5 million in order to compensate the affected residents, among other stipulations.

The city dismissed without prejudice a lawsuit against Capetillo for reimbursement of the missing funds surrounding the embezzlement allegations.

Capetillo was also one of several defendants named in a whistleblower lawsuit, along with other past Grovetown administration, claiming wrongful termination by longtime Grovetown utility billing clerk Michele Payne.

Capetillo is the stepdaughter of former longtime mayor Dennis Trudeau, currently on the Grovetown City Council.

Grovetown City Administrator John Waller said the city is currently at the 15-month mark awaiting the outcome of the federal investigation.

"We cannot comment on either the county or federal criminal investigations," Waller said, via email. "We are told these investigations take time, particularly at the federal level. We were told by the Treasury Department agent last year that we can expect to wait up to or beyond 18 months for an ‘average' federal investigation of this kind. To date we are nearly at the 15 month mark."

 

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