Judge continues trial for Ashford teacher facing theft charges

Laura McWaters

A September trial date for an Ashford teacher accused of stealing more than $3,360 from Ashford High School has been continued.

Laura Morgan McWaters, who goes by Laurie, was arrested by the Houston County Sheriff’s Office on April 13, 2018, and charged with first degree theft of property, a Class B felony that carries a penalty of between two and 20 years of incarceration.

According to court documents, Houston County Judge Butch Binford reset the trial due to a crowded court schedule on Sept. 24. No new trial date has been set.

An August trial date was also continued. Her defense attorney, Thomas Charlton Pope, filed a motion requesting a continuance because he was unable to attend court due to mandatory annual training scheduled for July 27-Aug. 10.

Sheriff’s Office investigators say that during a 2018 routine state audit, the Houston County School Board learned that $6,126 was used from the school’s Student Government Association account. During the time funds went missing, McWaters was the SGA sponsor, and the SGA account was set up under her personal bank account, for personal use and undetermined reasons, according to the investigation

The audit suggested that nearly $500 was spent from the account on items including clothing, beauty and hygiene products, pet food, DVDs, children’s games, and alcoholic beverages. More than $2,000 came from checks written out to McWaters or her bank for cash and $500 in cash was withdrawn from an ATM, investigators said.

McWaters was indicted by a grand jury in September 2018. She entered a plea of not guilty.

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Follow Michele Forehand on Twitter @micheleforehan1

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