A former records supervisor for the Columbia County Clerk of Courts was arrested in a fraud scheme, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced Friday.
FDLE said it arrested Katrina Vercher, 60, of Lake City, on one felony count of scheme to defraud and three felony counts of official misconduct.
According to FDLE, Vercher previously worked as a records supervisor for the Columbia County Clerk of Courts, and in June 2021, the Clerk of Courts identified discrepancies associated with tax deed sales and requested an investigation.
Agents said they audited past tax deed sales in Columbia County and identified 46 transactions where Vercher either altered tax deed records by recording a reduced sale price or by reducing the fees associated with the tax deed sale. In almost every occurrence, according to FDLE, the discrepancy correlated with the amount of cash collected by Vercher from the winning bidder of the corresponding tax deed sale as a deposit.
The investigation revealed numerous cash deposits made into Vercher’s personal bank account occurring either on the same day or the day after tax deeds sold that were determined to have a discrepancy, according to FDLE. Agents said they also identified multiple instances where Vercher appeared to physically alter tax deed documents to disguise the price discrepancies.
Investigators said Vercher defrauded Columbia County of about $27,600 in total.
“The Columbia County Clerk’s Office remains committed to the highest standard of integrity and public trust, and this unfortunate situation does not represent the character or values of this office. I wish to thank the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Pinellas County Division of Inspector General’s Office and the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office for the thorough and professional investigation over the past 13 months. If anyone has specific questions or concerns about their tax deed purchase I would encourage them to contact the Clerk’s Office,” said Columbia County Clerk of Courts and Comptroller James M. Swisher Jr.
Vercher was booked at 7 p.m. Thursday into the Columbia County jail and was released 30 minutes later on $55,000 bond, according to online jail records.
The case will be prosecuted by the State Attorney’s Office for Eighth Judicial Circuit.