Former Harrison County Chief Deputy Treasurer Terri Ann Pace was arrested Tuesday for abuse of official capacity, allegedly stealing more than or equal to $1,500, but less than $20,000 while working for the county.
“The Harrison County District Attorney’s Office requested an investigation by the Texas Rangers after some discrepancies were found in an internal financial audit.So the result of the investigation was the arrest of Pace for abuse of official capacity,” DPS spokesperson Sgt. Jean Dark told the News Messenger in a statement.
Harrison County District Attorney Reid McCain explained that, under the Texas Penal Code, a person commits the offense of abuse of official capacity if, “with intent to obtain a benefit or with intent to harm or defraud another, he intentionally or knowingly violates a law relating to the public servants office or employment; or misuses government property, services, personnel, or any other thing of value belonging to the government that has come into the public servant’s custody or possession by virtue of the public servant’s office or employment.”
Pace, 51, of Marshall, turned herself in to the Harrison County jail Tuesday morning after a warrant was issued on June 24 out of the 71st Judicial District Court, McCain advised. She was released shortly after her detainment Tuesday, on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.
According to the DA, the reported theft in the treasurer’s office was discovered as part of a routine audit conducted by the county auditor in late 2018.
“In January 2019 it appeared that monies were missing from the treasurer’s office. At that time, the Harrison County Auditor notified the District Attorney’s Office who contacted the Texas Rangers,” McCain indicated. “Texas Ranger Josh Jenkins investigated the case. Pursuant to his investigation, Ranger Jenkins secured a warrant for Pace.”
Human resource records show that Pace worked as chief deputy treasurer under the administration of former county treasurer Jamie Noland. She was hired in August 2016.
On Jan. 1, she transferred her employment to Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace Judge Nancy George’s office to work as a court clerk.
On June 21, Pace was put on paid administrative leave, pending the Texas Rangers’ investigation. The human resources office confirmed Tuesday that she has been terminated in light of her arrest.
During her capacity as chief deputy treasurer, Pace would often stand in the frequent absence of the then-county treasurer, presenting the office’s monthly reports to the Harrison County Commissioners Court. She also helped prepare and signed off on the treasurer’s office’s budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
Pace’s arrest comes a little more than a month after the indictment and arrest of former Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Judge Megan Pinson Grigsby, who was arrested May 16, also for abuse of official capacity charges.
According to District Attorney McCain, the range of punishment for abuse of official capacity is dependent upon the amount of money that a defendant obtained. In Pace’s case, the amount obtained is a state jail felony and is punishable by up to two years confinement in the state jail or a fine not to exceed $10,000; or both fine and confinement.