Home Builders case ends pre-trial

Diver­sion reached; 98 counts of theft whit­tled to one felony charge

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - AM­BER PITTMAN apittman@cov­news.com

In 2009, An­drea Ham­mond, the New­ton County Home Builders As­so­ci­a­tion’s ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, was charged with 98 counts of theft by con­ver­sion. Late last month, the case against her fi­nally came to a res­o­lu­tion when she ac­cepted a pre-trial diver­sion in the case.

Ham­mond was ini­tially ac­cused in late-2009 of us­ing a New­ton County Home Builders As­so­ci­a­tion credit card — which she had ac­cess to in or­der to make pur­chases for the busi­ness — to make thou­sands of dollars in pur­chases for her­self, in­clud­ing dog treats, work­out clothes and hair­cuts. The pur­chases went on for about 4 1/2 years be­fore they were dis­cov­ered, ac­cord­ing to Cov­ing­ton Po­lice Lt. Paul Dai­ley in a pre­vi­ous story.

The 98 mis­de­meanor charges against Ham­mond were dropped to one felony count of iden­tity fraud, and Ham­mond pleaded not guilty to the charge in March 2011.

On Aug. 21, Ham­mond en­tered

into a pre-trial diver­sion on the charge of theft by con­ver­sion, a mis­de­meanor.

“Af­ter a thor­ough re­view of the facts and cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the above-styled case, and in con­sid­er­a­tion of the above­named de­fen­dant’s min­i­mal crim­i­nal his­tory or the lack thereof, the State be­lieves that the above­named de­fen­dant should be af­forded the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in a pre-trial diver­sion pro­gram in lieu of crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion of the of­fense listed above,” said pa­per­work from the case. “The above-named de­fen­dant hereby ad­mits her guilt with re­spect to the above-ref­er­enced charge and vol­un­tar­ily agrees to par­tic­i­pate in a pre-trial di- ver­sion pro­gram.”

Ham­mond was or­dered to pay $200 in court costs, per­form 40 hours of com­mu­nity ser­vice and pay resti­tu­tion to the Home Builders As­so­ci­a­tion in the amount of $405.82.

She had six months to com­plete the or­der, and the crim­i­nal charges against her would be dis­missed, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments. On Sept. 3, Ham­mond sub­mit­ted pa­per­work show­ing the com­ple­tion of the pre-trial diver­sion. She was re­quired to pay $5 to the Ge­or­gia Pro­ba­tion Man­age­ment of­fice for a new crim­i­nal his­tory re­port be­fore the Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s Of­fice could dis­miss the charges..

“We are glad there is fi­nally clo­sure af­ter al­most four years,” said Jared Rut­berg, who was pres­i­dent of the Home Builders As­so­ci­a­tion when Ham­mond was charged. “The NCHBA is a vic­tim due to the fi­nan­cial and op­er­a­tional dam­age. The ha­rass­ment and neg­a­tive com­ments about the as­so­ci­a­tion, the Board of Di­rec­tors, and es­pe­cially in­di­vid­ual board mem­bers, when each only wanted ac­count­abil­ity and to pre­vent this hap­pen­ing to an­other or­ga­ni­za­tion, makes each a vic­tim.

“Un­for­tu­nately, most im­pacted were the char­i­ties and com­mu­nity-at-large that the HBA sup­ported,” con­tin­ued Rut­berg. “In­stead of the ex­ten­sive fundrais­ing and vol­un­teer work his­tor­i­cally done to sup­port Re­lay For Life, col­lege schol­ar­ships, lo­cal schools and var­i­ous char­i­ties, the HBA had to di­rect all its ef­forts to re­cover from one in­di­vid­ual’s ac­tions. At least now we can fi­nally put this be­hind us and move for­ward.’’


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