Child Support Worker Pleads Guilty To Stealing Money From Parents
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The former child support case worker accused of stealing thousands of dollars has admitted she did it.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates first exposed how Pamela Campbell took child support money from parents and pocketed it.
We talked with one of the first victims and now we've learned there were many more. Nearly two dozen, maybe more.
Tuesday in court, Campbell told the judge she was guilty as charged. But, despite her crime, she will not serve any time.
In court, Campbell quietly and simply answered the judge's questions, more than when we first tried to ask her earlier this year about what she'd done.
Back in February, we asked Campbell, "What do you tell these parents? Why would you take money from these parents?" as she headed to her car.
She got in without answering and slammed the door.
Campbell was arrested in March and charged with theft and official misconduct after parents like Tiffiney Jenkins discovered Campbell, a former caseworker at the child support office in Franklin, had taken their money order payments and cashed them herself.
Jenkins told NewsChannel 5 Investigates it happened after she brought a blank money order to Campbell's office.
"I said, 'I don't know what to put on the money order, like who to pay to the order of.' And, she said, 'Don't worry about it. You know, I'll take care of it,'" Jenkins recalled in February.
District Attorney Kim Helper said Campbell did this repeatedly for more than three and a half years.
Helper said Campbell would take parents' child support payments and make it appear like they had been paid to child support services when, in fact, Campbell had pocketed the money.
Helper said TBI agents found stashed copies of many of the forged receipts in Campbell's desk at work.
And, the TBI tells NewsChannel 5 Investigates they were able to connect these receipts to at least 20 victims. But, the DA said there very well may have been more.
"Because some of the money orders may not have had names on them as to trace back where they came from or what case they applied to," Helper explained.
In all, agents found that Campbell stole more than $18,800.
Williamson County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Easter asked Campbell in court, "Are you entering this conditional plea to theft over $10,000 and less than $60,000 because you are guilty of that offense?"
"Yes, sir," Campbell replied.
In exchange for her guilty plea, Campbell will serve three years probation and have to pay back the full $18,861.
The TBI said there could still be other victims out there. If anyone paid Campbell with a blank money order and has proof of it, they should call the TBI at 1-800-TBI FIND.
The criminal case is now over. But, there could be further civil charges and we're told anyone who comes forward now still would have claim to the restitution Campbell has to pay.
So, why after admitting to stealing, did Campbell get no jail time?
The way it works under Tennessee law, since this was her first offense and it was non-violent, she was able avoid jail time and simply get probation.
If Campbell violates her probation in any way or fails to pay back what she owes, then the jail time will kick in and she could wind up spending up to six years behind bars.
If she stays clean and does not violate her probation, then in three years, her guilty plea will be expunged and her criminal record wiped clear.