UNION COUNTY — A former Deputy Clerk of the Union County Clerk of Court’s Office has been arrested for allegedly stealing more than $10,000 in child support funds over a five-year period.
In a statement released this afternoon, Union County Sheriff David Taylor announced that Julia Chandler Phipps, 41, 1326 Main Street, Buffalo, has been arrested and charged with Embezzlement of Public Funds, Misconduct in Office, and Misconduct in Office (Common Law).
Taylor stated that on July 5, 2017, he requested the assistance of SLED in investigating the theft of monies from the Union County Clerk of Court’s Office. He said the ensuing investigation was conducted jointly by his office, SLED, and State Forensic Auditors from DSS.
Investigators determined that more than $10,000 in public funds were taken from the Clerk of Court’s Domestic Relations Account between January 2015 and June 2017. The press release states that during this time Phipps was responsible for the deposits into the Domestic Relations Account. It states she was a Deputy Clerk assigned to supervise the Child Support Office, which is under the responsibility of the Clerk of Court. It further states that Phipps failed to properly and faithfully discharge her duties.
The press release states that Phipps had served under a former Clerk of Court and an Interim Clerk of Court of Union County. It states that Clerk of Court Melanie Lawson was instrumental in determining the discrepancy of deposits and funds in the Domestic Relations Account and contacted the Sheriff’s Office. It further states that Lawson had been in office just six months and was able to recognize something was wrong with the account.
In addition to the press release announcing her arrest, the Sheriff’s Office also released the warrants for Phipps’ arrest on each of the charges filed against her. All three of the warrants state that during interviews conducted by a SLED agent, Phipps admitted to taking the monies collected for the Domestic Relations Account.
The press release states that Embezzlement of Public Funds carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison; Misconduct in Office a sentence of $1,000 or one year; and Misconduct in Office (Common Law) a sentence not to exceed 10 years.
Phipps turned herself in at the Union County Jail at 10 a.m. this morning. She was still incarcerated late this afternoon awaiting a bond hearing.
Taylor said that Phipps was fired from the Clerk of Court’s Office just after the investigation got under way.