A South Carolina judge ruled Monday that York County prosecutors can seek indictments against a former Union County clerk of court employee accused of embezzling more than $20,000.
Julia Phipps, a former supervisor in the Union County Clerk of Court's office, was charged in January with stealing the money in a period from 2012 to 2017, arrest warrants show. Phipps, 41, is charged with embezzling public money and two counts of misconduct in office, court documents show.
The accusation is there was an discrepancy of $20,633 in money collected and money deposited by Phipps in a bank, said Matthew Hogge, the 16th Circuit assistant solicitor prosecuting the case.
State Law Enforcement Division agents arrested Phipps after an audit of the accounts, Hogge said.
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The Union County Clerk of court maintains separate accounts for child support collections and other court functions, Hogge said.
A SLED agent who investigated, Matthew Davis, testified Monday that money was moved from the child support account into another account, used for filing fees and other functions. The SLED agent testified there was no reason for child support money to be moved to the other account.
The charges against Phipps carry a maximum of 12 years in prison if she is convicted, SLED officials said.
Union County Magistrate Judge Jimmy Crocker ruled Monday, after a preliminary hearing, that prosecutors have probable cause to take the cases against Phipps to a grand jury to consider indictments, Hogge said.
Phipps confessed to taking some of the money, when interviewed by police, according to testimony from a SLED agent Monday in the court hearing and arrest warrants.
York County prosecutors are handling the case, because York and Union counties are both in South Carolina's 16th judicial circuit.
Phipps is the latest public official in Union County to be charged. The former sheriff, tax assessor, clerk of court and a supervisor were sent to prison in recent years after being found guilty of crimes in office.
Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065, @Andrew DysHerald