Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Long-Time Columbia County Clerk of the Court Employee Arrested for Alleged Fraud Scheme

The alleged scheme began in 2014

Photo of Commissioner Rocky Ford and Deputy Clerk Katrina Vercher in 2019 with caption: Former County Clerk Charged: scheme to defraud and official misconduct
Commissioner Rocky Ford (left) and Deputy Clerk Katrina Vercher at a meeting of the County 5 in January 2019. (Photo: Columbia County Observer)

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – On July 14, 2022, at 2:25 pm, Circuit Court Judge Leandra Johnson signed an arrest warrant for 21-year veteran deputy clerk Katrina Vercher. The charges were one count of a scheme to defraud and three counts of official misconduct.


Ms. Vercher began her career at the courthouse over 21 years ago. She worked her way up through the ranks, working in many departments: small claims, circuit civil, county civil, and traffic, before being promoted to supervisor over the official records department.  In her capacity as supervisor, she oversaw passports, marriage license and recording, and tax deeds.

Katrina Vercher 2019

Ms. Vercher was a hands-on supervisor and on any given day one could see her helping folks and doing the work in any department she oversaw.

People that knew her said she was very smart and a hard worker.

For years Ms. Vercher was a fixture at meetings of the County 5, where she represented former Clerk of the Court DeWitt Cason, and then upon his retirement, Jay Swisher.

Ms. Vercher took the County 5 minutes.

Ms. Vercher was conscientious, and this reporter can speak from experience when he says, "She always returned phone calls and made sure he always had copies of the County 5 minutes."

Just over a year ago, the Clerk’s Finance Department noticed a discrepancy in a tax deed sale. There appeared to be missing funds.This immediately prompted the Clerk’s Office to conduct an internal audit of several other tax deed files. This produced further concerns.

Columbia County Clerk of the Court Jay Swisher called the Pinellas County Clerk’s Office to request assistance with a more indepth audit. Two of their top people wasted no time in coming to Columbia County.

The Pinellas duo, along with the Clerk's internal auditor, did an audit and quickly confirmed Clerk Swisher’s and his executive team's suspicions – there appeared to be missing money. There was a discrepancy between the amount of money Ms. Vercher collected at the tax deed sale in the courtroom and the amount she actually deposited with the cashier.

Ms. Vercher was called into Clerk Swisher's office for a meeting and denied any wrongdoing. She was put on administrative leave.

The Pinellas team did a second audit and a week later, based on those findings, Ms. Vercher was terminated.

Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter and State Attorney John Durrett were called to the Clerk's Office and given an explanation of the issues.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) was called in and took on the investigation of the missing tax deed money.

After a year, the FDLE investigation was completed.

According to some reports, it appeared that $100,000 was missing. FDLE felt that it could only prove $27,600 of the alleged theft.

The missing money was not from court funds, but was money that was allegedly taken from folks that had bought tax deeds. Ms. Vercher allegedly wrote new receipts for less money than she had collected and personally turned the new amount, along with the new receipt, into the cashier.

It is thought that the alleged tax deed scheme went on for over six years.

On July 14, 2022, at 2:25 pm, Judge Leandra Johnson was presented with an affidavit from FDLE investigator Brett Lycett presenting facts that he swore established "probable cause for the issuance of a warrant" for Ms. Vercher's arrest.

In part, the Affidavit for Arrest Warrant stated the following:

“Your affiant states that in June 2021, FDLE initiated an investigation at the request of the Columbia County Sheriff's office into the activities of Katrina Vercher regarding her scheme to defraud the Columbia County Clerk of Courts of funds in excess of $20,000 between November 2014 and May 2021.”

Judge Johnson had worked with Ms. Vercher for the past 12 years.

After reviewing the affidavit, Judge Johnson signed the arrest warrant for Ms. Vercher.

FDLE made contact with Ms. Vercher and she turned herself in on the evening of the 14th.

Ms. Vercher posted a $55,000 bond and was released.

The State Attorney's Office of the Eighth Judicial Circuit will prosecute the case.


Ms. Vercher drives an old car, doesn't wear fancy jewelry or dress in designer clothes. By all accounts, she was a hard-working gal and not a career criminal.

The Clerk of the Courts is exploring virtual tax deed sales where bidding and payments will be handled on line. Until then, Clerk of the Court Swisher has implemented a system of checks and balances and regular audits of cash transactions in the Clerk's Office.

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