Carroll County Superior Court Judge John Simpson also ordered the defendant to pay $100,000 in restitution to Mary Jo Farish, owner of the Carrollton-based Farish Realty.
Fowler had pleaded guilty in February, when she was sentenced to eight years in prison. Fowler later withdrew that guilty plea, leading to what was supposed to be this week’s jury trial.
The jury of 12 that had been impaneled Tuesday was dismissed around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday after Fowler’s guilty plea.
Fowler pleaded guilty to one count of theft by taking, four counts of financial transaction card theft and 21 counts of forgery in the first degree.
In February, during Fowler’s plea at that time, a victim impact statement read in court by Assistant District Attorney Jeff Hunt, Steve and Mary Jo Farish, owners of the Carrollton-based realty company Farish Realty, said that less than two months after Fowler was hired as a bookkeeper for their company in late 2007, she began to habitually forge paychecks for herself that amounted to more than $3,000 a month for several months.
Hunt said that while serving as bookkeeper for the company, Fowler acquired credit cards meant for the company’s use and made several purchases with them in Douglas County.
“She was actually using a credit card with the owner’s name on it,” Sgt. Blake Hitchcock of the Carrollton Police Department told the Times-Georgian following Fowler’s arrest. “The payments were up to date and the owner didn’t want the credit card anymore. Instead of canceling the card, the credit card company recommended the owner keep the account open and not use it.”
Hitchcock had said that the Farishes became suspicious of illegal activity when additional paperwork was shipped to them by their credit card company.
When she was fired from Farish Realty for insubordination in September 2009, Hunt reported that Fowler had made a brazen attempt to file for unemployment benefits.
“Kimberly Fowler made a mockery of the criminal system,” the couple said in their statement in February. “What is justice in a crime like this? How is Kimberly Fowler going to repay what she has taken?”
Fowler was also ordered to take out a $150,000 life insurance policy, the beneficiary of which should be Farish, so the real estate company owner will get restitution if Fowler passes away.
The defendant had already paid $7,000 toward the $100,000 restitution, and was ordered to pay another $15,000 before turning herself in at the Carroll County Jail before 5 p.m. today.
Fowler’s legal counsel, Marietta attorney Roger Curry, requested that his client be able to turn herself in today instead of immediately being taken into custody after her plea so that the defendant could arrange a babysitter for her child and acquire the $15,000 and life insurance policy.
Simpson warned Fowler that not turning herself in before 5 p.m. today could “lead to serious consequences,” including charges of escape.
Fowler will pay $500 per month for the duration of her probation, which will be terminated upon full payment.
When asked by Simpson if she had anything to say to the court, Fowler said she did not.