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Athens attorney reports $20k theft by employee

By Joe Johnson

An Athens attorney reported an employee stole $20,000 from him, according to an Athens-Clarke County police report.

Jim Smith, a solo defense practitioner with an office on College Avenue reported the theft on Feb. 18.

According to the report, Smith said he sold property in Madison County for $20,000 and deposited the money in a bank account created specifically for those funds.

“He advised that the money was intended for an airplane repair he needed to make and did not regard the money as income,” according to the report. “Neither was the money part of his law firm; Therefore, it should not be garnished.”

The report continued, “He was also worried the state would seize the money for some back taxes that he owed from 20012 or 2002.

“So in an effort to avoid any misclassification of the income, Mr. Smith placed the money in the safekeeping of his clerk...until the time that Mr. Smith required it returned,” according to the police report.

Smith on Oct. 26 wrote a check to the clerk “for the $20,000 and interest accrued,” according to the report, and several weeks ago he asked his employee for the funds.

The clerk never returned the money or returned to work.

The 77-year-old attorney reportedly told police that the clerk was known to steal, but he believed that the man had changed...”

According to Clarke County Superior Court records, Smith represented the 35-year-old suspect in three misdemeanor shoplifting cases.

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