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$300k unaccounted for at Probate office


An audit of the re-
cords of the Chambers
County Probate Office
has revealed that a former
longtime employee at the
office has been arrested
after being suspected
in the theft of nearly
$300,000 from the county
office over the term of
their employment. The
individual suspected in
the theft has now been
arrested and charged and
ordered to repay the miss-
ing funds.
Chambers County Pro-
bate Judge Brandy Easlick
released the information
last week regarding the
theft and subsequent
charging of former
employee Rene Hunt
Welch. A nearly year-long
investigation by the Ala-
bama Examiner’s Office
has revealed that Welch is
suspected of the theft of
exactly $299,861.68 from
the Probate Office during
the course of her employ-
ment at the office.
In a statement released
on Friday by Judge
Easlick she stated, “As
your Probate Judge, I have
always maintained trans-
parency with the citizens
of Chambers County.
Whether the information
was simply informative,
good, bad, or otherwise.
I have vowed to remain
transparent to the people
of Chambers County
about your Probate Office
and I continue to uphold
my promise”.
As Judge Easlick con-
tinues her statement she
goes into depth about the
nearly year-long investiga

tion by the Alabama State
Examiners Office and the
discovery by that agency
that a former employee of the Probate Office had cir

cumvented the safeguards
and internal controls put
in place and allegedly took
$299,861.68 of the office’s
funds over the term of her
employment. Easlick goes
on to note that she was
aware of the investiga-
tion, but up until Friday
she was unable to release
information on the investi-
gation to the public.
Easlick has vowed to
continue to work with the
auditors to ensure that the
Chambers County Probate
Office remains in compli

ance with the investigation
and puts in place what-
ever safeguards need to be
installed to prevent further
deception in the office.
The state auditor’s of-
fice completed an in-depth
investigation into the
Chambers County Probate
Office. An 86-page report
was made public on Fri-
day that spanned a period
from November 2014 to
October 2017. During the
time period analyzed by
investigators and audi-
tors it was discovered that
$299,861.18 was missing
from the accounts of the
Probate Office.The investigation
revealed that on numerous
instances the amount of
cash recorded on deposit
slips by the bookkeeper
and later deposited into
the bank, was less than the
amount of cash collected
by the clerk’s office and
verified by the book

keeper says the report. At
the time the investigation
was ongoing, Rene Hunt
Welch was working as the
bookkeeper at the Probate
Rene Hunt Welch was
arrested and booked into
the Chambers County
Detention Facility over the
weekend and charged with Theft of Property. Records
show that 56-year-old
Welch has since bonded
out of the jail. The Ala-
bama Examiner Office has
ordered the former book-
keeper to repay the miss-
ing funds to the county.
There is no word on when
a trial date is expected
for the former bookkeep-
ers theft charges. In her
statement Judge Brandy
Easlick states, “ I take my
job as the keeper of public
funds very seriously and
will prosecute her to the
fullest extent of the law.”