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Sentencing delayed in court theft
Woman admits to taking money from magistrate accounts
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Forsyth County News

It will be August before sentencing is decided for a former Forsyth County Magistrate Court administrator charged with taking about $29,000 in court funds.

Laura Hope Moore, 49, of Cumming appeared Wednesday before Forsyth County Chief Superior Court Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley on 27 felony counts of theft by taking.

For each count, the maximum sentence is 10 years in prison.

Moore pleaded guilty to the charges. Her sentencing was postponed until Aug. 13 after her attorney, Rafe Banks III, requested a pre-sentencing investigation.

Banks explained the purpose of the request was to submit medical records to probation regarding Moore's mental state before her sentence is determined.

Moore told Bagley on Wednesday that she takes medication for mental illness.

She was arrested in October 2006 after the thefts, which occurred between May 2004 and June 2006, were discovered.

Before the discrepancy in the funds was investigated, Moore had been demoted and then dismissed from her post, which she had held for about five years.

Forsyth County Chief Assistant District Attorney Sandra Partridge took Banks' request to task.

"If we do a presentence investigation and give all of this medical information to probation, then we don't have to actually put it in evidence and it's all hearsay," she said.

"There's no way for the state to come in and rebut anything or even -- maybe because we get it the night before the hearing -- take a look at it. I don't understand that at all."

Partridge said she may have no problem with the evidence at all, but wanted it put in "in a proper manner."

"You're supposed to put it in evidence so we can look at it and cross examine it," she said. "I may have no problem with it at all, but I don't know what it is that's being shown."

Banks said he had no problem releasing the information to the district attorney's office.

Moore told Bagley she committed the thefts by making checks out to herself and others and signed them with

Magistrate Judge Barbara Cole's rubber signature stamp. She then deposited the checks into her account.

"I did it and it was a horrible wrong," Moore said. "I was not sleeping. I was very compulsive. I don't have a clear explanation of why I did this, but I did it."

Partridge said Moore recorded the checks in the court's general ledger as restitution payments.

"I don't know if restitution was actually paid, it may have been," she said.
Instead of writing a check to the victim, Partridge said, Moore would "write the check to herself and then stamp it."

"And that's how she was able to do it for so many years without anyone finding out," said Partridge, adding that no one else was indicted in the case.