Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news from Florida for working families since 2007

County News

Former Columbia County Deputy Clerk Guilty: Scheme to Defraud & Official Misconduct

Lady Liberty with headline: Former Columbia County Deputy Clerk Guilty. Scheme to defraud and official misconduct
Photo: Jack Moreh via Freerange | Columbia County Observer graphic

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – On Monday, October 17, 2022, former Columbia County Deputy Clerk Katrina Vercher was found guilty by Judge Leandra Johnson in a Columbia County courtroom. She was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay $27,600 in restitution within the next 45 days.

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

Ms. Vercher must also complete 200 hours of community service and pay $418 in court costs.

In June 2021, the Clerk’s office discovered financial discrepancies associated with tax deed sales. After an internal audit revealed further concerns, Clerk of Court Jay Swisher requested the assistance of an independent auditing team specializing in tax deeds.

Katrina Vercher, 2019
Katrina Vercher in 2019

Based on the internal audit findings, Ms. Vercher was placed on administrative leave. A short time later, she was terminated.

The Clerk’s Office cooperated with a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation. As a result of the investigation, Ms. Vercher was arrested on July 14, 2022, and charged with one count of Scheme to Defraud and three counts of Official Misconduct.

The count of Scheme to Defraud is a second-degree felony. Official misconduct is a third-degree felony.

Yesterday, Ms. Vercher pleaded nolo contender or “nolo.” This is a plea by which a defendant in a criminal prosecution accepts conviction as though a guilty plea had been entered, but does not admit guilt.

In Florida, a judge can either withhold the adjudication of guilt for good cause or order, after no cause being shown, that the defendant is judged guilty of the crimes charged.

Judge Johnson ordered Ms. Vercher to be found “guilty.”

In the plea deal between Ms. Vercher and the State Attorney, the state did not weigh in on the withholding of guilt. It said, "State Attorney will stand silent as to whether a Withhold of Adjudication should be granted by the court." (see page 2)

Ms. Vercher will be eligible for the end of her probation if she meets all court conditions and has no further violation after three years.

By Executive Order of the Governor, Brian S. Kramer, State Attorney for the Eighth Judicial Circuit of Florida, accepted an executive assignment for the prosecution of Ms. Vercher.

Clerk of the Court Jay Swisher said of the verdict, “The public must have the trust of governmental officials. This one incident certainly doesn’t represent the integrity and dedication of the hardworking men and women of the Columbia County Clerk’s Office.” 

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Meeting Calendar
No need to be confused - Find links to agendas and where your participation is welcome.

Make a comment • click here •
All comments are displayed at the end of the article and are moderated.