Jones County clerk disputes charge against her

jkovac@macon.comJune 3, 2014 

With her family behind her, her lawyer at her side and her job potentially in the balance, the clerk of Jones County, charged with shoplifting, set out to clear her name Tuesday.

On the front walk of her Macon attorney’s Washington Avenue office Tuesday afternoon, clerk Connie Mize kept quiet and listened as her lawyer told at least some of her side of the story.

Attorney Gregory L. Bushway said the criminal charges against his client may be the result of a self-service checkout snafu.

Mize, 51, was jailed Friday morning after trying to buy about $400 worth of items at the Eatonton Wal-Mart, 22 miles north of where she lives in Gray.

She has worked for Jones County for about a dozen years. Mize was named county clerk, a post that pays about $45,000 a year, in 2011.

Mize’s future as clerk was expected to be discussed at a Tuesday night board of commissioners meeting.

At the afternoon gathering before local news outlets outside her attorney’s office, Mize said little.

Bushway did the talking.

“She is going to fight these charges,” he said.

Mize allegedly tried to make off with $115 in unscanned merchandise, according to an Eatonton police report.

Bushway refuted that, saying that amount of merchandise may not be in question. He said there was some confusion when Mize checked herself out, buying 70 or so items in her 7 a.m. shopping trip to a Wal-Mart she doesn’t frequent.

He said there was a Wal-Mart employee “a few feet” from Mize as Mize rang up her own purchases, and that Mize asked the worker for help when some items that were supposed to be on sale didn’t scan as such.

Bushway said “several adjustments” were made to Mize’s receipt.

He said she “completed her business, so she thought, and Miss Mize left the store, or at least she tried to.”

That’s when a manager walked up to her, Bushway said.

“The manager placed her hand on Miss Mize’s shoulder and said, ‘Some of the items did not scan. Would you like to buy those items or would you like to return them?’”

Mize said she wanted to buy them, Bushway said, and returned to a register and the items were re-scanned.

“About that time the police showed up,” he said.

Mize then asked to view the store’s security video to show she hadn’t taken anything, Bushway said, but she was taken to jail instead.

Mize, in her clerk’s position, serves at the pleasure of the Jones board of commissioners.

“She’s absolutely concerned about her job status,” Bushway said. “But you know what she’s more concerned about? This woman’s 51 years old. She’s never been arrested for anything. ... She’s concerned about her reputation.”

To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.

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