COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Two more co-defendants entered guilty pleas in a public corruption case where federal authorities allege that millions of dollars were stolen from the Muscogee County Clerk’s Office.
Curtis Porch and Dereen Porch pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme Tuesday in front of U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land, said Curtis Porch’s attorney William Kendrick.
The husband and wife pled guilty to one count each of bank fraud.
Terry McBride, Lamarcus Palmer, George Cook, and Samuel Cole pleaded guilty previously and face up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. Land will sentence them in February.
All of the co-defendants who have admitted to roles in the scheme confirmed that they would take stolen checks from former Superior Court Deputy Clerk Willie Demps and cash those checks at local banks while Demps waited in the parking lot.
Demps allegedly would pay the co-defendants a small portion of the checks. During an 11-month period in 2019, authorities allege that Demps stole $467,331 in public funds.
In an August hearing, an FBI agent told the court the actual total of the theft could exceed more than $5 million and dates back more than a decade.
Kendrick said that his client was a bit player in a broader conspiracy.
“This case is tricky because of the relationships of the smaller co-defendants with the person who had the official capacity, Mr. Demps,” Kendrick said. “I do think in large respect most of the individuals operated off a trust that they had and the relationship they had with Mr. Demps. I don’t think they had any idea of what was truly happening.”
Demps appeared in court Tuesday and Land delayed the start of his trial. It was originally scheduled for January. It has been pushed back to March.
Demps is the only one charged who remains in custody.
Rosalee Bassi is the only other co-defendant other than Demps who has not entered a plea.
Previous coverage on the case: