Lacie Boykins

Lacie Boykins

RUTHERFORDTON — A former sheriff’s office employee who embezzled $85,790 recently struck a plea deal that includes no jail time.

Lacie Felicia Boykins, 40, of Shelby, pleaded guilty to five counts of embezzlement by a public official/trustee on Sept. 30. Despite admitting to stealing cash proceeds over a 5-year period, the first time offender received a suspended sentence that keeps her from going to jail.

Boykins, an administrative specialist with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, handled transactions for the county’s concealed-carry permits. Concealed-carry permits cost $95, Renewals cost $85. Those transactions are paid in cash, with half of the proceeds going to the state and half going to the county, Sheriff Chris Francis said.

Suspicions of Boykins’ embezzlement first surfaced on Jan. 11 when another employee noticed something afoul. The employee then alerted administration. On Jan. 23, Boykins was placed on administrative leave to allow for an internal investigation, one handled by the sheriff’s office.

The investigation confirmed the embezzlement, which led to the charges on July 24.

“Unfortunately, I had not changed how that (payment for concealed-carry permits) was handled when I became sheriff,” Francis said of the original process. “We have more checks and balances now. She understood the system and knew how to manipulate it.”

Each count for embezzlement represented one for each year, Francis said.

According to the office Clerk of Superior Court, Boykin’s sentence included a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of 17 months incarceration suspended for 60 months under supervised probation. She must make full restitution of the amount embezzled. Court costs is subject to a civil judgment, but not the restitution. Boykins is to complete 40 hours of community service. Fees for her probation supervision and community service were waived.

Employment records show Boykins began her employment with the sheriff’s office on May 4, 2012. Her annual salary was $32,673. She was effectively dismissed Feb. 6.

Law enforcement agencies often refer internal investigations to the State Bureau of Investigation to avoid any conflict of interest or the appearance of such. Those deferred probes, however, typically involve sworn officers.

“There was no need to do that. We were able to do the investigation ourselves,” Francis said.