Former Madison Co. finance director accused of stealing nearly $100k from Ga. ethics association


Melissa Branyon Tolbert

By Joe Johnson

A Madison County grand jury this week indicted a Danielsville woman who allegedly stole nearly $100,000 from a statewide organization for elected officials.

The indictment filed Tuesday in Madison County Superior Court charges 42-year- old Melissa Branyon Tolbert with five counts of theft by taking and four counts of financial transaction card fraud, all felonies.

The charges stem from her arrest last month by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on accusations the alleged thefts occurred while Tolbert was executive director of the Constitutional Officers Association of Georgia.

COAG comprises all constitutionally-elected officials in Georgia, including sheriff, clerks of court. Probate judges and coroners. The association promotes ethical standards for law enforcement, courts, and local tax commissions.

The indictment charges Tolbert with using a COAG credit card to steal $95,735.26 to pay for such things as a 2021 campaign contribution of $257.55 to T.J. Hudson, a Republican who unsuccessfully primaried against Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and a tab of $1,724.84 from the Perry Lane Hotel in Savannah.

Tolbert reportedly resigned from COAG in May to take the position of Madison County’s finance director.

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