Former Washington County Deputy Clerk charged with money laundering
WASHINGTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) – Peggy Gilmore Gay is home after being released on $12,000 bond after turning herself into police last week.
According to an affidavit from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, her arrest warrant was issued after an investigation revealed she was collecting money to conduct “background checks, by providing copies of court records through the Washington County Clerk’s Office to private vendors.”
The issue was first brought to law enforcement last year by the outgoing Interim Clerk of Court Harold Bazzel after Gay wasn’t being rehired by new Clerk Lora Bell. According to the affidavit, Bell knew Gay conducted the background checks but wasn’t sure where the money collected was going. She refused to sign off on any contracts for them until it was reviewed.
The affidavit points out Gay had access to conduct “private business …through databases that were only available to her” because she was an employee of the clerk’s office and she performed the background checks as part of her job. However, she did not hand more than $70,000 in fees collected over to the clerk’s office.
Law enforcement officials believe Gay was taking money from 2004 up until she wasn’t rehired. They also say they came to their conclusion based on Gay’s bank records and documents from vendors.
She is facing felony charges for grand theft, unlawful compensation, and money laundering. No word yet on when Gay will appear in court.
We reached out to her for comment but got no response. We also reached out to both Bazzell and Bell. They declined to comment.
Bell mentioned in the affidavit since Gay has been gone, they haven’t had as many background check request.