Suwannee Democrat


May 22, 2014

Hamilton: Griffin admits fraud, enters deferred prosecution program

Jasper — A White Springs man, who was jailed on five counts of fraud, admitted guilt on May 14 and agreed to a plea deal with the State Attorney’s Office for deferred prosecution, according to Third Judicial Circuit State Attorney Jeff Siegmeister.

On April 17, Joe E. Griffin of 16589 Mill St., White Springs, was arrested and booked into the Hamilton County Jail on five counts of uttering a forged instrument and was held on $10,000 bail. Since that time, Griffin’s case went before the Third Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office where a deferred prosecution agreement was drafted for a period of 12 months, beginning May 14.

According to the State Attorney’s Office, Griffin waived his right to a speedy trial, admitted guilt to the charged offenses, and agreed to numerous conditions and fines, including not violating any criminal laws, paying a total of $1,100 to the State Attorney’s Office, paying $40 in court costs, and $350 for investigative costs to the White Springs Police Department. He must provide receipts of those payments to the Diversion Program Administrator. He was ordered to refrain from passing or publishing as true the Bronze and Silver Star military awards he listed on his job application. He must also work regularly, unless disabled, retired or a full time student, and must notify the Diversion Program Administrator if he changes residence.

The charges stemmed from a job application Griffin submitted in February to the town of White Springs for the position of town manager that contained false information, including fraudulent copies of U.S. Navy military certificates. Questions arose when town officials noticed all of Griffin’s military awards were earned within a one-year span. According to town officials, when asked to supply the town with his military service record (DD214 Member 4), Griffin stated his certificate copies should suffice as it was federal law.

The Department of the Navy had no record of Griffin receiving the Bronze and Silver Star awards, and stated, “The documents the member provided appear not to be authentic.”

Town officials presented the suspected fraudulent documents and supportive evidence to the State Attorney’s Office and a warrant was issued for Griffin’s arrest.
If Griffin violates any of the conditions of the Diversion Program, the State Attorney may either commence prosecution, whereby his admission of guilt can be used against him, or the period of deferred prosecution could be modified/extended. If Griffin meets the conditions of the agreement determined by the State Attorney, the charges will be dismissed.

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