Georgia Department of Law, from the office of Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General


Former Department of Revenue Employee Faces Second Indictment Over Theft of Tax Payments

January 26, 2011

The DeKalb County Grand Jury has returned a four count indictment against Lawanda Harkness for her role in the theft of money orders that were originally intended to pay state tax obligations of two Georgia taxpayers.  The DeKalbCounty indictment alleges that Harkness, an employee in the mailroom of the Georgia Department of Revenue during the time in 2008 when the thefts occurred, took two money orders payable to the Department of Revenue.  Harkness then allegedly altered the money orders, one for $838 and one for $262, to change the payee from the Department of Revenue to Lawanda Harkness.  An indictment was previously returned against Harkness in FultonCounty on Monday, January 24, 2011 over the thefts of six additional payments made by Georgia taxpayers.   Details on that indictment can be found at here.  Indictments were returned in two counties based on where the allegedly altered money orders were deposited.

Harkness was indicted for two counts of theft by taking for her alleged role in the theft of the money orders, each a felony punishable by one to fifteen years imprisonment (O.C.G.A. §§ 16-8-2 and 16-8-12).  The alleged alteration of the money orders changing the payee from the Department of Revenue to Lawanda Harkness formed the basis for two counts of first degree forgery, a felony punishable by one to ten years imprisonment (O.C.G.A. § 16-9-1).

Assistant Attorney General Greg Lohmeier is prosecuting the case on behalf of the State of Georgia.  Lohmeier presented the case to the DeKalb County Grand Jury on January 25, 2011, and the Attorney General’s Office was notified today that the Grand Jury had true-billed the indictments.

Members of the public should keep in mind that indictments contain only allegations against the individual(s) against whom the indictment is sought.  A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and it will be the government’s burden at trial to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the allegations contained in the indictment.