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Hand allegedly caught in Ferris’ cookie jar; case due Grand Jury

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JIM WILLIAMS
Ellis County Press

FERRIS - From all indications, Ferris Mayor Jimmie Birdwell said Gailen Hand, former municipal court clerk for the city, appeared to be on her way to being indicted for alleged embezzlement.

Birdwell said he received results and cost for an audit performed by Shaw Witherspoon Certified Public Accountants and Company PC of Ennis. He turned over the audit results and cost to a chief investigator, who picked up the paperwork for the office of Ellis County District Attorney Joe Grubbs.

Birdwell said he expected Hand to be arrested.

'I don't think it's gone before the grand jury yet,' Birdwell said. 'I saw her in town [Ferris] yesterday [Thursday, Aug. 24.]'

Grubbs said Hand already had an attorney representing her.

'It's currently, actively being processed,' the district attorney said. 'It's not fallen through anyone's cracks. It's right on target. It's to go to the Grand Jury. I'm sure it will be indicted. I feel it will be disposed of by the end of the year.'

When contacted by the Ellis County Press, Hand said she had no comment.

Grubbs said he was virtually sure Hand would be found guilty.

He said punishment for theft, a third-degree felony charge, was a minimum two years to a maximum 10 years in prison and possibly a fine up to $10,000.

Grubbs was asked what happened to the $41,455.62 allegedly embezzled by Hand from November 1998 to February 2000.

'I'm sure she'd like to know that,' he chuckled. 'The embezzler usually doesn't know what happened to the money. It's probably long gone.'

Grubbs said the state had the right and would seek restitution of the missing money.

The district attorney said in a case such as this there was the possibility of the charge being enhanced due to the crime allegedly being committed by a public servant.

Birdwell said while Hand was employed by the city she was bonded to $100,000 by the Texas Municipal League.

Should the charge be enhanced, Grubbs said it could escalate to second-degree felony. A guilty verdict would result in a two years minimum and 20 years maximum prison sentence and possibly a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Hand resigned Feb. 13 from her position as municipal court clerk for the City of Ferris after an investigation began concerning missing funds.

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