Former longtime Albemarle County Circuit Court Deputy Clerk Dayna Awkard pleaded guilty Friday morning to the embezzlement of nearly $14,000, according to court records.
Awkard, a 24-year employee of the circuit court clerk’s office, resigned on March 21, shortly after a tip from an unnamed court employee prompted a state investigation into possible fraud. She was brought in for questioning by the Virginia State Police on March 18, at which point she confessed to taking money from the Clerk’s office. Awkard turned herself in to police June 5.
Henrico County’s Commonwealth Attorney, David Stock, was brought in as the special prosecutor for the case because Awkard worked with attorneys in Albemarle County.
According to Stock, Awkard took the money from cases in which the fees were paid up-front in cash, such as divorces and name changes. While she would submit proper paperwork to the court, she would file improper receipts and not report the payments, allowing her to take the money and falsely balance the numbers in order to avoid suspicion.
After receiving the anonymous tip in March and subsequently reviewing court records, officials discovered that about 180 files, dating back to at least 2009, had no or false receipts.
Awkard faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and is scheduled for sentencing on October 24.