SOUTHERN UTAH — The Office of the Utah Attorney General announced Thursday the guilty plea of a former Kane County Treasurer for charges related to the misuse of public money.
Georgia Baca, 53, of Washington City, appeared before Judge Marvin D. Bagley in Kanab’s 6th Judicial District Court and pleaded guilty to one third-degree felony county of misusing public funds.
A possible prison sentence of up to five years was suspended. Instead, Baca was ordered to serve 30 days in jail and complete 36 months’ probation.
She was also ordered to pay $35,613 in restitution to Kane County.
Baca resigned as Kane County Treasurer in March 2016 after the Utah State Auditor’s Office released a report alleging that Baca had been stealing money for personal use for three years. Baca had held the treasurer’s position since 2006.
Officials said an investigation into the matter was initiated in January 2016 after hearing of a suspicious transaction made by Baca.
The Utah State Auditor’s office examined transactions between Jan. 1, 2013, and Jan. 1, 2016, and found transfers and payments which they deemed “improper and illegal” totaling over $36,000 and a discrepancy of over $56,000 in cash/check deposits which hasn’t been accounted for.
During the state’s audit, Kane County Commission Chairman Dirk Clayson and other Kane County officials were “very cooperative,” Utah State Auditor John Dougall said in a statement issued by the attorney general’s office Thursday.
“This effort was the result of a conscientious individual noticing a suspicious transaction and raising that concern,” Dougall said. “The Office of the State Auditor is actively engaged in holding government officials accountable and rooting out waste, fraud and abuse within government.”
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said he hopes the resolution brings some measure of closure to Kane County residents.
“As an elected official, the defendant held a fiduciary position with the citizens of her county,” Reyes said in the statement. “Sadly, she breached this trust. While it is never pleasant to bring charges against a fellow public servant, when it is necessary we will diligently do our jobs to assist the Court in holding them accountable.”
Utah State Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, is also quoted in the statement saying, “This has been a difficult case, and I am grateful to see justice served for the people of our county.”
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