Former Simla assistant clerk accused of embezzlement

September 26, 2012

An assistant clerk in Simla will make her first appearance in Elbert County court Thursday morning after allegedly stealing about $1,000 of town money.

Linda Norris, 51, lost her job in May and was arrested Sept. 6 on suspicion of felony embezzlement of public money and misdemeanor theft. During some of the alleged crimes Norris apparently tried to cover up her actions by finding the money after confronted by town clerk Caroline Hamacher.

According to an arrest affidavit, 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office investigator Tonya Barnes found at least 10 incidents in which Norris allegedly collected money from residents of the town of 600 and kept it for herself.

The court document said suspicion was raised in December 2011 when money given to Norris for a utility bill was missing. Hamacher approached Norris who “stated that she did not have any idea where the money was” but offered to reimburse the town account with $334.45.

Following one other confrontation, Norris repaid another $50 that was allegedly lost after another person purchased dog tags.

From January to April 2012, eight more incidents arose in which Norris was paid for either utilities or dog tags. Each time receipts were given, but deposits were not made, the affidavit said.

During the last suspicious incident, a resident told town trustee Linda Glidden that the check used for a water bill two weeks earlier had not yet cleared. Glidden approached Norris who said she’d “check with the bank.”

The check mysteriously appeared in the bank drop box that same afternoon, but “Norris could not explain how the check had gotten into the night deposit drop box,” the document said.

At the time of Norris’ arrest, $975.42 of the town’s money was missing.

The former clerk was taken into custody Sept. 6 by El Paso County deputies and turned over to the Elbert County jail, Lt. Jeff Kramer of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said. Norris was released Sept. 19 after posting $3,000 bail.

Contacted about the alleged embezzling, a Simla employee who wouldn’t give her name said, “At this time, the town has no comment. We’ve been advised by our attorney not to say anything.”

Contact Matt Steiner at 636-0362 or follow him on Twitter @gazsteiner.

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