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UGA employees charged in alleged bribery-theft scheme

Amy Stowers

By Joe Johnson

Three UGA employees were arrested this week for an alleged bribery-theft scheme at the University Health Center’s Vision Clinic.

According to UGA police reports, the scheme allegedly was orchestrated by the clinic’s manager, Amy Stowers, who entered into an agreement with an optical vendor who gave her gift cards totaling about $2,550 in value “by inducing the belief that the receipt of the items would influence the performance of her official duties.”

Asa a result of the “prohibited agreement coordinated by Stowers” and the vendor, two Vision Clinic opticians each received gift cards on six separate occasions obtained gifts cards from the sales of eyewear frames and converted proceeds from the cards for personal use,” according to the police report.

The opticians were identified by UGA police as Rita Marie Melville, 54, of Bethlehem and Janice Fay Coley, 63, of Gainesville.

Rita Marie Melville

Janice Faye Coley

The gift cards obtained and illegally used by Cloey totaled $404 in value, police said, and Melville's cards had a total value of $348.

UGA’s Internal Auditing Division alerted university police about the alleged scheme on Oct. 25, after an anonymous report was made through UGA’s Alertline system about theft occurring at the Vision Clinic.

A second report about the clinic was made on Nov. 22, according to the police report.

After an investigation, UGA police detectives on Wednesday obtained warrants that charged Stowers with four counts of felony bribery and Melville and Coley each with six counts of misdemeanor theft by conversion.

Stowers, 44, of Gainesville was booked into the Clarke County Jail on Wednesday and released the next day on bonds totaling $44,200, according to the jail’s website.

Coley and Melville were each booked into the jail Friday morning and released that afternoon upon posting bonds totaling $10,100.

Rebecca Beeler, UGA’s public relations manager, said on Friday that Stowers “is no longer an employee” at the university.

Coley retired on Jan. 1 after being employed for over 10 years, according to an article published in UGA Today.

Classic City News was unable to immediately determine Melville’s employment status.

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