NEW INFO: Second Daughter Sentenced in Martin County Clerk's Office Investigation

By: WSAZ News Staff, The Associated Press Email
By: WSAZ News Staff, The Associated Press Email

UPDATE 9/19/13 @ 5:40 p.m.
JOHNSON COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A second woman, accused of stealing money from the Martin County Clerk's Office, is headed to prison.

Tamberlyn Sue Hairston, 41, was sentenced Thursday to five years behind bars.

She and her sister, Tonya Mills, 47, were charged after auditors found $20,000 in unaccounted funds in the Martin County Clerk's Office in 2012.

The two women are sisters. Their mother, Carol Mills, is the Martin County Clerk.

Carol Mills told WSAZ.com that after learning the money was missing she terminated her two daughters for misconduct. Mills said she believed Hairston may have been helping her sister with an overwhelming addiction problem.

Tonya Mills was sentenced earlier this month to five years behind bars. She pleaded guilty in August to an amended charge of abuse of public trust less than $10,000.

Hairston pleaded guilty to one count of abuse of public trust less than $10,000 and four counts of second-degree criminal possession of forged instrument. Hairston was sentenced to five years behind bars, but the sentences will run concurrently for a total of five years.

Hairston's sentence was postponed because her daughter has been diagnosed with a tumor and needed to see a specialist.

The sentencing for both women was held in Johnson County, Kentucky.



UPDATE 9/6/13 @ 1:40 p.m.
PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) -- As sisters, they grew up together, worked together and are now going to jail together.

Tamberlyn Sue Hairston, 41, and Tonya Mills, 47 both of Lovely, are the daughters of Martin County Clerk Carol Sue Mills.

In December, the two former employees in their mother’s office were indicted following an investigation by the Kentucky State Auditor's Office that found more than $20,000 in unaccounted funds in the clerk's office. That investigation started in August 2012.

Last month, Tonya Mills pleaded guilty to an amended charge of abuse of public trust less than $10,000, while Hairston pleaded guilty to one count of abuse of public trust less than $10,000 and four counts of second-degree criminal possession of forged instrument. Each woman agreed to a five-year sentence as part of their pleas.

Friday, during a hearing held in Johnson County Circuit Court, Mills was officially sentenced to the five years in jail.

Mills, who has been in custody for 154 days on unrelated drug charges, was given credit for time served.

Hairston was also scheduled to be sentenced Friday, but it was postponed because her daughter has been diagnosed with a tumor and needs to see a specialist this week.

Assistant Prosecutor Tony Skeens says Hairston will now be sentenced on September 19th.

We spoke with Hairston, and although she declined an on camera interview, she said her only concern at this time was for her daughter.

In August 2012, Carol Mills told WSAZ.com that after learning the money was missing she terminated her two daughters for misconduct. Mills said she believed Hairston may have been helping her sister with an overwhelming addiction problem.



UPDATE 8/2/13 @ 2:30 p.m.
INEZ, Ky. (WSAZ) – Two former employees in the Martin County Clerks office charged in connection with more than $20,000 in unaccounted funds from the clerk's office have pleaded guilty to the charges against them and now face prison time.

The women are the daughters of current Clerk Carol Sue Mills.

In December 2012 , Tonya Mills (Delong), 47, and Tamberlyn Sue Hairston, aka "Tammy Perry", 41, both of Lovely, Ky., were indicted following an investigation by the Kentucky State Auditor's office.

Mills was charged with one count of abuse of public trust over $10,000.

Hairston was charged with one count of abuse of public trust less than $10,000 and four counts of second-degree criminal possession of forged instrument.

Thursday during a hearing in Martin County Circuit Court, Mills pleaded guilty to the amended charge of abuse of public trust under. $10,000, while Hairston pleaded guilty to all five counts in the indictment.

Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Tony Skeens tells WSAZ.com that as part of the plea deal both women will each be sentenced to 5 years in prison. Their sentencing is set for September.

Mills told WSAZ.com that after learning the money was missing she terminated her two daughters for misconduct. Mills said she believed Hairston may have been helping Delong (Mills) with an overwhelming addiction problem.



UPDATE 4/3/13 @ 11:50 a.m.
INEZ, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Kentucky State Police tell WSAZ.com that additional documents have been seized from the Martin County Clerk’s Office in connection with an ongoing investigation involving two former deputy clerks.

The investigation involves the daughters of current County Clerk Carol Sue Mills.

In December, Tonya Mills (Delong), 47, and Tamberlyn Sue Hairston, aka "Tammy Perry", 41, both of Lovely, Ky., were indicted following an investigation by the Kentucky State Auditor's office that found more than $20,000 in unaccounted funds in the clerk's office.

Mills is charged with one count of abuse of public trust over $10,000.

Hairston is charged with one count of abuse of public trust less than $10,000 and four counts of second-degree criminal possession of forged instrument.

Detective Jason Dials tells WSAZ.com the additional documents related to the case were seized Tuesday.

A representative from the Kentucky State Auditor’s Office was also present at the request of KSP to help identify the records, according Stephanie Steitzer with the Auditor’s Office.

Neither agency would say what documents and records were seized.

The Mountain Citizen newspaper reports that the search warrant sought documents that included checkout sheets, bank statements, and deposit tickets from specific dates over a six-month period last year.

Both women pleaded not guilty to the charges. Their trials are set for September.

This is an investigation WSAZ.com first told you about in August when Clerk Carol Sue Mills told WSAZ.com that she knew who took the money.

Mills told WSAZ.com that after learning the money was missing she terminated her two daughters for misconduct. Mills said she believed Hairston may have been helping Delong (Mills) with an overwhelming addiction problem.

"She did it to support her drug habit," Mills said. "She did my deposits for 22 years without any problems. They've been with me since day one. It's just unreal."



UPDATE 12/20/12 @11:30 a.m.
INEZ, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Two former deputy clerks in the Martin County Clerk’s office, who are also the daughters of current Circuit Clerk Carol Sue Mills, were arraigned Thursday morning.

Tonya Mills (Delong), 47, and Tamberlyn Sue Hairston, aka "Tammy Perry", 41, both of Lovely, Ky., were recently indicted following an investigation by the Kentucky State Auditor's office that found more than $20,000 in unaccounted funds in the clerk's office.

Mills is charged with one count of abuse of public trust over $10,000.

Hairston is charged with one count of abuse of public trust less than $10,000 and four counts of second-degree criminal possession of forged instrument.

Both women pleaded not guilty to the charges during Thursday’s arraignment. They are set to return to court for their pre-trial on January 17.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



12/12/12 .
MARTIN COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- They once served Martin County, but now they are charged with abusing the public's trust.

It has been a rough couple of days for Martin County Clerk Carol Sue Mill after a grand jury indicted two of her daughters last week.

Mills says this is a decision she saw coming after being subpoenaed, "I had to testify against my children which was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do."

The State Auditors Office opened an investigation after Mills had told them about some concerns she had with some employees, those employees were her own daughters, Tanya Mills and Tammy Hairston.

The Martin County Grand Jury charged Tonya Mills (Delong), 47, of Lovely, Ky., with one count of abuse of public trust over $10,000.

Tamberlyn Sue Hairston, aka "Tammy Perry", 41, of Lovely, Ky., is charged with one count of abuse of public trust less than $10,000 and four counts of second-degree criminal possession of forged instrument.

The investigation found more than 20,000 dollars unaccounted for. Mills says she feels bad for her daughters.

"I've done nothing wrong it is just a shock to me and I feel bad for them. They worked here 23 years and I don't know what happened, it was unreal and I know people have to pay for what they do."

The Martin County Judge Executive says Mills has always been a good example of who a county clerk should be, "all of her audits were always perfect, little comments if any until this thing came up." Judge Kelly Callaham believes, "things arise you can't do nothing about especially when your children are involved."

Mills says despite what's happened, many are still supporting her, "if it hadn't been for the love and support of my community, my friends and church, i couldn't make it."

Mills and Hairston are set to be arraigned December 20th at 10 a.m.

Carol Sue Mills has decided to retire once her current term is up.



UPDATE 12/12/12
INEZ, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A grand jury has indicted two former deputy clerks in the Martin County Circuit Clerk’s office. They are also the daughters of current Circuit Clerk Carol Sue Mills

The Martin County Grand Jury charged Tonya Mills (Delong), 47, of Lovely, Ky., with one count of abuse of public trust over $10,000.

Tamberlyn Sue Hairston, aka "Tammy Perry", 41, of Lovely, Ky., is charged with one count of abuse of public trust less than $10,000 and four counts of second-degree criminal possession of forged instrument.

The indictment comes following an investigation by the Kentucky State Auditor's office that found more than $20,000 in unaccounted funds in the Martin County Clerk's office.

It is an investigation WSAZ.com first told you about in August when Clerk Carol Sue Mills told WSAZ.com that she knew who took the money.

Mills told WSAZ.com that after learning the money was missing she terminated her two daughters for misconduct. Mills said she believed Hairston may have been helping Delong (Mills) with an overwhelming addiction problem.

"She did it to support her drug habit," Mills said. "She did my deposits for 22 years without any problems. They've been with me since day one. It's just unreal."

Mills and Hairston are scheduled to be arraigned on the charges next week.

The indictments were returned on December 6.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 11/27/12 @ 11 p.m.
INEZ, Ky. (WSAZ) -- After several months of investigating, officials with the Kentucky State Auditor's office confirm they have found more than $20,000 that is unaccounted for in the Martin County Clerk's office.

The findings have been turned over to Kentucky State Police for further review and could go before a grand jury next month.

It is an investigation WSAZ.com first old you about in August when Clerk Carol Sue Mills told WSAZ.com that she knew who took the money.

Since August, officials from the State Auditor's office have combed through everything in the Martin County Clerk's office.

"Martin County Clerk Carol Sue Mills came to us with these concerns that she had with a couple of employees and some concerns that money might be missing," said Stephenie Steitzer, Communications Director for the State Auditor.

In documents released Tuesday, auditors say they found more than $6,000 that appeared to have been paid to contract laborers.

"There was no supporting documentation or evidence of actual work done," said Steitzer.

They also found more than $16,000 that was received by the office but never deposited in the bank.

"There was a problem about writing checks," said Mills.

In August Mills told WSAZ.com that after learning the money was missing she terminated her two daughters-- Chief Deputy Clerk Tonya Delong (Mills) and supervisor Tamberlyn Hairston for misconduct.

Mills said she believed Hairston may have been helping Delong (Mills) with an overwhelming addiction problem

"She did it to support her drug habit," Mills said. "She did my deposits for 22 years without any problems. They've been with me since day one. It's just unreal."

"It's just been a tough year, and being you know my family, it's been really tough," Mills said Tuesday.

Besides firing her daughters, Mills say she has made other changes.

"The people that writes the checks now, they write the checks. They don't take care of the books. We have a different bookkeeper," she said.

She says they will do whatever it takes to get the office back on track.

Officials say now that the audit is over. the case will be sent to the grand jury to see if there is enough evidence to indict the two women. The grand jury is set to meet on December 6.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 11/27/12 @ 11:40 a.m.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- State Auditor Adam Edelen will submit findings from an audit of the Martin County clerk's office to the Kentucky State Police for further review.

Edelen said his staff found that the clerk's office had paid more than $5,500 for office repairs and other jobs but had no evidence to show any work was performed.

County Clerk Carol Sue Mills said in response to the finding that an employee was fired as a result, and the money in question has been paid back to the county.

The auditors found several other areas of concern during the review, including cash receipts totaling $16,576 that weren't deposited in the bank between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31.

Mills said that finding resulted in a second staffer being fired for taking money from her office.



ORIGINAL STORY 8/13/12
INEZ, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A longtime county clerk decided to bare her soul on Monday.

The revelation comes as the state auditor’s office continues to examine the clerk's office books. Many say they can not remember a public official talking so frankly about possible criminal activity involving her own family.

WSAZ.com has an investigation wrought with tears and turmoil. They were tears from a mother who had to fire her two daughters when she says it was discovered that thousands of dollars in taxpayer money was missing.

For 23 years, Martin County clerk Carol Sue Mills has been a pillar of the community. When small town rumors started to fly, Mills decided the best thing to do was be honest -- no matter how much it hurts.

“I want the people of Martin County to know I’m truly sorry," Mills said. "In 23 years, I’ve not had a bad audit. This time it appears to be some criminal activity.”

Mills says shortly after the state audit of her office began a few weeks ago, she was informed there was money not accounted for.

"I’m thinking it's over $20,000, but I’m not sure of the exact amount,” she said.

Mills says after that shock, she terminated two employees for misconduct. They are her two daughters -- Chief Deputy Clerk Tonya Delong (Mills) and supervisor Tamberlyn Hairston.

Mills believes Hairston may have been helping Delong with an overwhelming addiction problem

"She did it to support her drug habit," Mills said. "She did my deposits for 22 years without any problems. They've been with me since day one. It's just unreal."

Martin County Judge-Executive Kelly Callaham said, “Carol would not do anything wrong.”

Callaham applauds his clerk for her courage in preempting what he says will likely be a criminal investigation

“It may be $20,000 to 30,000," he said. "It may be even more than that."

Mills' remaining staffers are standing as one with a boss they adore and fully support.

“She's given her only money to customers who did not have
enough to get their car registered,” Deputy Clerk Susie Skiles said.

We left messages with both of Mills’ dismissed employee daughters, but they did not return any calls. Mills say her daughters were allowed to work for her without any nepotism questions by being grandfathered in before a new law allowed only one family member to work for a public official.

The Kentucky state auditors office will only say they are conducting an ongoing audit of the Martin County clerk's office. The auditors office says the review of the Martin County clerk's books should be complete by early fall.


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