A former Liberty County Tax Commissioner convicted in April 2001 on four counts of theft by conversion and racketeering has returned to the area after serving about 10 years.
Carolyn Brown, who received a 30-year sentence in May 2001, was paroled Nov. 21, according to the State Board of Pardons and Paroles’ online database.
Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Hinesville hosted a Dec. 15 event to welcome Brown home, and about 50 people wrote comments of support and blessings on a Facebook page for the event.
Brown’s conviction followed years of legal battles and controversy in connection with how she paid herself while serving as the tax commissioner, according to previous Courier reports.
Delete - Merge UpFor many years, tax commissioners across the state were paid in fees and commissions related to the amount of tax revenue they collected, with the percentages varying according to county population.
A state law that took effect while Brown’s predecessor was in office changed tax commissioner compensation for counties with a population of 45,000 or more to a flat salary and prohibited them from collecting fees.
Brown was the county’s first tax commissioner to enter office under the law.
Previous reports and court testimony indicate that when Brown took office in 1993, she paid herself on commission. Brown’s defense said she was simply following her predecessor’s procedures when writing the checks to herself, but the prosecution said she continued to pay herself on commission even after being told to stop in 1995.
“On and after January 1, 1995, no tax collector or tax commissioner in a county having a population of 45,000 or more shall be entitled to fees authorized by Code Section 48-5-180 or Code Section 40-2-33,” the Georgia Code said in section 48-5-183.
Brown’s defense said that the payments after 1995 were continued due to confusion over the law and were not made with intent to deceive.
The pardons and paroles database said Brown will report to a parole office in Jesup, and her parole is slated to end April 28, 2030.
Attempts to contact Brown were unsuccessful by press time.