A payroll supervisor bilked the Louisiana Supreme Court of $116,000 by setting up an elaborate web of fake judicial appointments and far-flung bank accounts, according to the State Police.
Authorities said Misty Wood, 38, of Meraux, embezzled the money in a string of transactions between April 2016 and February 2017.
The daring fraud was discovered after the Louisiana Legislative Auditor's Office conducted a routine audit of pay records.
Wood, also known as Misty Corb, was booked Thursday on 29 counts each of identity theft, computer fraud, malfeasance in office, public salary deduction and public payroll fraud. She was being held in lieu of $72,500 bail on Friday.
Police said the investigation began when auditors could not find the paperwork for a temporary assignment for a retired judge. The Supreme Court often appoints — and pays — retired judges to serve on an ad hoc basis in courtrooms where elected judges are absent for reasons such as illness.
The retired judge said he did not serve a temporary appointment in 2016.
State Police said the audit revealed that Wood, who oversaw payroll in the Judicial Administrator’s Office, made a number of fraudulent pay requests in the name of inactive, retired judges.
Wood would make up fake assignments for the judges, then divert the money they would have earned into bank accounts she controlled, police said. She stashed the cash in banks as far away as Opelousas, Natchitoches and Greenwood, Mississippi, police said.
Wood made a total of $116,284.39 in fraudulent transactions, auditors concluded.
A spokesman for the Supreme Court confirmed that Wood was employed there from December 2015 to March 2017. He declined to comment further, citing the pending court case.
Wood’s husband declined to comment on the case when reached by telephone. He said she has not yet retained an attorney.
Online court records did not show any prior felony arrests for Wood.