Judge Robert “Mack” Crawford. Photo/Ben Nelms.
Griffin Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Robert “Mack” Crawford is the subject of an investigation by the Ga. Bureau of Investigation (GBI) for reportedly instructing the Pike County Clerk of Superior Court to issue him a check for more than $15,000 and receiving those funds.
District Attorney Ben Coker said GBI is investigating the case, adding that Judge Crawford has recused himself from criminal cases until the investigation is completed.
Coker in a March 13 letter to Senior Assistant Attorney General David McLaughlin, said he was contacted by the Pike County Clerk of Court Carolyn Williams regarding Judge Crawford receiving funds from the Pike County court registry in the amount of $15,675.62. The funds were deposited by the plaintiffs in a lawsuit, for whom Crawford was listed as the attorney.
The complaint stated that, “… plaintiffs at the time of filing this action are tendering into the court $15,685.62 as required by law to pay the defendant for their right to redeem said property.”
Coker in the letter noted that Judge Tommy Hankinson in November 2009 issued an order dismissing the complaint and counterclaim complaint as there was “no written order… filed for a period of five years,” since 2002.
It was on March 9 that Williams “called and informed me that she issued the above-mentioned funds in the registry to Judge Crawford at his direction on Dec. 11, 2017. She stated to me, that she was preparing to send the money to the state as abandoned funds, but that she asked Judge Crawford to look at it before she did. Judge Crawford then advised the clerk to disperse the money to him. The clerk did, in fact, disperse the money to Judge Crawford,” Coker said.
Coker asked that, in the role of a witness in a potential investigation against Judge Crawford, a conflict counsel be appointed to review the matter and determine the appropriate action.
The investigation by GBI began March 27 after receiving a request from McLaughlin.
“This matter involves Judge Crawford’s alleged direction to the Pike County Clerk of Superior Court to write the judge a check in an amount exceeding $15,000 from the registry of the court and the judge’s alleged depositing of the check into his personal checking account,” said McLaughlin.