Former Salt Lake County Constable Accused of Fraud

Former Salt Lake County Constable Accused of Fraud

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A former county constable has been accused of charging Salt Lake City for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of work she allegedly didn't perform.

Susan G. Collins, 50, of Midvale, faces 18 counts of felony mail fraud -- one count for each monthly check she received from late 1998 to early 2000. A grand jury indictment against her only unsealed last month after she returned to the country after a trip.

She has pleaded innocent to the accusations in U.S. District Court. If convicted, she would face up to five years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine for each count.

A constable is appointed by city and county councils to serve court papers such as summonses, arrest warrants and collection orders. A constable heads up a staff of deputies who also serve those papers.

According to the indictment, her contract with the city called for her to be paid a set amount for each paper she or one of her deputies served.

The contract specifically says papers aren't considered served "merely because a defendant pays a penalty or posts bail" -- unless it is the result of direct contact between a defendant and Collins or one of her deputies.

However, federal prosecutors claims Collins would pick up papers that needed to be served and hold onto them without "engaging in any effort to serve them" for two to three months.

She would allegedly have her staff check those papers, which included court-issued warrants, against a list of recalled warrants. Prosecutors claimed she then billed the city for any warrants she had picked up that had since been recalled, "even though neither she nor her deputies took any part in the service," the indictment said.

The indictment estimates 67 percent of the $558,000 she received from the city since September 1998 was obtained fraudulently, but prosecutors claimed after further investigation it was is closer to 90 percent.

No trial date has been set. A March 2 status conference was scheduled, however.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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