A few months into his job as a bookkeeper for the Glynn County Superior Court Clerk’s Office, Larry Morten began siphoning away money. Investigators determined he walked away with more than $76,000 between October 2008 and March 2014, though a county audit showed a total of $1.2 million missing. Morten, 36, pleaded guilty Friday to all 70 counts of theft.
During the plea hearing Morten said he was “deeply apologetic” and embarrassed about his actions, calling them a product of stupidity and greed, and an attempt to get a handle on the costs of his mother-in-law’s cancer treatment.
The defense called a number of people to the stand who discussed Morten’s otherwise good character and the quality of his performance at his current job, as the general manager of a used-car dealership franchise. Morten himself made the case for not receiving prison time, explaining that he made enough money at his job to make regular, significant payments for the money he took from the county.
However, Superior Court Judge Robert Guy said he needed to give prison time in this matter because of the violation of the public trust Morten committed. Guy sentenced Morten to eight years in prison and 27 years’ probation, with the option of suspending two of the eight years in prison.
Morten’s plan began unraveling in 2014, when former deputy clerk Darren Jones discovered what appeared to be around $94,000 missing. Lola Jamsky, the former clerk of court, fired Morten in January 2015 for taking the money. Morten claimed he was ordered to move funds around from one account to another regularly, and believes other people were taking money from the county, as well.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation performed an audit in 2016 that revealed more than $673,000 was gone from county accounts. A further audit by the county showed even more money disappeared.
The draft report showed $122,616 was taken and not concealed. There were also checks written to cover up money taken from the child support receiver account — which came to $535,497 — and payments to the clerk’s office that went to cover up the taking of $455,926. Essentially, the county audit declared that Morten took the money because he could — there weren’t the sort of controls, monitoring and oversight needed to prevent such behavior.
The report stated the structural problems in the clerk’s office “resulted in $1,114,039 of missing cash. Also, Larry Morten was able to endorse payments made to the clerk’s office in the amount of $30,347 and deposit them into an account that does not belong to the court’s office.”
Morten was previously supposed to go on trial this month, with jury selection Monday and opening arguments Sept. 17.