Former Florida court clerk accused of stealing more than $109K in filing fees

MIAMI — A former deputy clerk in South Florida is accused of stealing more than $109,000 in court filing fees over a two-year period, authorities said.

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Tyrone Derise Smith, Jr., 35, is facing charges of grand theft over $100,000 and organized scheme to defraud over $50,000, according to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. Both are first-degree felonies, WTVJ-TV reported.

Since 2007, Smith had worked as a deputy clerk in the section of Miami-Dade’s family court where people file new lawsuits and complaints, the Miami Herald reported. Smith’s duties included collecting money, counting receipts and preparing bank deposits.

Smith resigned on June 4, 2018, after supervisors began auditing mission cash, according to WTVJ.

According to an audit by the Miami-Dade Inspector General’s Office, Smith processed 201 cases where filing fees were never filed. Nearly $109,000 in stolen cash and checks that were supposed to be deposited to the clerk of courts accounts were missing, the Herald reported.

Prosecutors said the audit was initiated after a man went to the clerk’s office to complain about the lack of movement on his civil case, WPLG-TV reported. When the man was told he never paid the fee, he said he paid in cash and provided a receipt as proof, according to the television station.

“The official-looking receipt was an obvious fake since it was not printed on thermal paper as are the official COC receipts,” the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office said in a news release. “The missing deposit funds, coupled with this new filing fee discrepancy, prompted COC administrative staff to conduct an internal audit of all of Smith’s transactions between August 2016 through April 2018 and to ask the Miami-Dade County Inspector General for investigative assistance.”

Smith had processed the man’s payment and supplied the bogus receipt, the Herald reported.

“When government employees steal, they not only grab the public’s money, but they squander the public’s trust in their local government,” State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement Monday. “Such actions betray our community and can never be accepted or tolerated.”

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