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Woman sentenced in appraisal fraud
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Forsyth County News
An Eatonton woman was convicted Friday in Forsyth County Superior Court of falsifying a $1 million property appraisal.

Donna Buice, 53, was sentenced to five years on probation after being found guilty of one count each of first-degree forgery and identity fraud.

She will serve the first 90 to 120 days of her sentence in a probation detention center.

According to Forsyth County News accounts, authorities arrested Buice in 2007.

Her arrest came after a certified master appraiser notified a local bank that his signature on an appraisal for a Texaco service station property in Lithonia had been forged.

The discovery by local authorities reportedly prompted an FBI investigation of about 100 more commercial property appraisals conducted by Buice.  

A spokeswoman for the U.S. District Court Northern District of Georgia said court records do not show any federal charges against Buice.

Buice's attorney, Rafe Banks, said his client acknowledged her wrongdoing to Forsyth County Superior Court Judge David L. Dickinson during her bench trial Friday morning.

Banks said the forgery was the result of a bad decision.

“It’s one of those foolish, stupid things people do on occasion that can have more profound consequences than they realize at the time,” Banks said.

He said the only thing wrong with the appraisal was that his client took a shortcut on the certification.

“I give credit to the district attorney’s office and to the judge,” Banks said. “I think the sentence was pretty appropriate to the circumstances for what they recommended and what the judge imposed.”

At the time of her arrest, investigators said Buice was a certified appraiser. However, she needed a second signature of a state certified master appraiser for commercial appraisals worth more than $250,000.