Fernandina Beach News Leader
Where'd the money go? -- 'I spent it'
By Benjamin Price, News-Leader
In a calm, matter-of-fact confession, former Nassau County Clerk of Courts employee Julie Mixon said she embezzled funds from the office for almost a decade simply by placing cash in her purse.
What started as a theft of about $5,000 - to help out a friend, she said - eventually grew into years of embezzlement that officials now estimate adds up to more than $1 million.
In a recorded confession to a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigator April 22, Mixon detailed how she was able to pocket cash for years without being detected. Not by her employer or the county auditor Farmand, Farmand & Farmand, even though her method sometimes created daily accounting discrepancies of thousands of dollars.
Mixon said she began by destroying deposit slips and keeping the cash.
"When I first started out, I would just take the deposit slip and tear it up and keep the money," she said.
Later, when the county switched to an electronic system, she said she began printing false checks and deposit slips to cover the cash she was stealing.
The checks were located in an unsealed box at the clerk's office, and she kept a stack along with deposit slips in her desk.
According to the interview, records show that on one day in November 2004, the traffic department brought in about $4,600. Of that amount, about $1,290 was in cash. However, the corresponding deposit slip shows all of the money was in the form of checks.
Mixon admitted that on this and other occasions, she would pocket the cash and print a fake check on her computer to make up the difference.
"How did that occur?" the interviewer asks.
"The same way," Mixon said. "I replaced the cash with the disbursement check and took the cash and put it in my purse."
She said she would also destroy the actual deposit slip and replace it with a false one she created.
On other occasions, Mixon said she would hold a day's worth of deposits and destroy the receipts. Then, on another day when more cash would come through, she would pocket the cash and use the checks she was holding to make up the difference.
When asked by the interviewer how often this would happen in a 20-day period, Mixon admitted that at one point it was "maybe four or five" times.
She said the last time she took cash from the office was as late as January, shortly after newly elected Clerk of Court John Crawford replaced Chip Oxley, clerk since 1996.
The office discovered several "financial irregularities" shortly after and Crawford said he suspected Mixon but never confronted her about it. She was fired in February.
Throughout the 30-minute recorded interview with an FDLE investigator, Mixon was calm and matter-of-fact. She rarely showed signs of emotion, and never indicated where she spent the money. The interviewer pointed out that on some days she would leave the office with thousands of dollars in her purse.
When asked what she did with the money, Mixon replied with a nervous laugh, "I spent it."
When the interviewer asked her to be more specific, Mixon said, "Some of it (was spent) on bills, like I say, I would loan it to different people, and I... I don't know."
Later she said that she "may" have spent some of it on a $6,200 down-payment on a new Chrysler Pacifica automobile. However, she said she did not use the cash to pay off the car she estimated to be worth more than $30,000.
When asked about gambling trips to Las Vegas, Biloxi, Miss., and Tunica, Miss., Mixon said "I did not take a lot of money to go on a gambling trip because I'm not a heavy gambler. Just a small amount."
Mixon remained adamant throughout the interview that no one else in the office knew she was stealing money or helped her in any way.
When asked in the interview if the auditor Farmand, Farmand & Farmand knew she was embezzling funds, she replied, "Evidently not, because they would have said something. I know none of them personally."