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Pinellas County clerk employee resigns, promises to repay stolen money

ST. PETERSBURG — Deborah Haugabook, a well-liked, longtime employee of the Pinellas County Clerk's Office, resigned Thursday, less than a week after admitting she had taken thousands of dollars meant for jurors.

She promised to repay the entire amount, which auditors determined was $8,738.

Haugabook, 49, who worked at the clerk's office since she was 21, tendered her resignation at a personnel hearing Thursday morning, surrounded by family members.

"It was the saddest hearing," chief deputy clerk Myriam Irizarry said. "Everyone around that table was crying. She is extremely remorseful for what she has done."

Haugabook had confessed to Clerk Ken Burke that she dipped into cash meant to pay jurors for their service, Burke said. She had been having financial difficulties, including a home in foreclosure.

Irizarry said the clerk's office has a responsibility to collect all the taxpayer funds that were missing. Haugabook has 45 days to refund the money, which she said she would do with help from family members.

To tighten procedures, clerk officials at the St. Petersburg Courthouse are now counting nightly the cash that is used to pay jurors. That didn't happen before because jury trials are sporadic at the St. Petersburg Courthouse, unlike the Criminal Courts Complex in the Largo area, where they occur almost daily.

Information about the case was given to St. Petersburg police and the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office.

Pinellas County clerk employee resigns, promises to repay stolen money 07/30/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 30, 2009 9:52pm]
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