Camden Co. judge pleads guilty to charges, resigns

Retiring probate judge says he'll likely have to stay on, run special election

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Camden County Sheriff's Office booking photo of Shirley Wise

WOODBINE, Ga. - The just-elected probate judge of Camden County left office after pleading guilty to three criminal charges.

Wise had worked in the office for 20 years and was the associate probate judge when the charges were brought against her earlier this year. She was elected  probate judge in July and was scheduled to be sworn in Jan. 1 to the seat of retiring Judge Martin Gillette.

District Attorney Brian Rickman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Judge Shirley Wise pleaded guilty to three counts -- theft by taking, theft by deception and violation of her oath of office.

Among the charges against Wise was that she took cash payments for vital records from December 2008 until earlier this year and failed to account for and deposit the money. According to records from the Judicial Qualifying Commission, Wise tried to hide the acts by shredding or destroying the original duplicate cash receipts that had been given to customers.

Rickman said Wise was sentenced under the First Offender Act to seven years on probation and fined $1,000.

He said Wise also gave more than $5,500 in restitution to the Camden County Board of Commission. Wise also agreed to not seek or accept appointment to a judicial office in the future.

A special election will be scheduled for March to fill the probate judge position.  Gillette told the Florida Times-Union he will likely have to stay in office and run that election, because he and Wise were the only people in the county certified by the state to do so.

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