Former Tax Collector’s Office employee to get probation, jail after August arrest

The former St. Johns County Tax Collector’s Office employee who was arrested in August amid allegations that she stole more than $13,000 from customers by overcharging them for driver’s licenses, car tags and title transactions and keeping the difference in cash, will spend six months in jail and five years on probation.

 

Melissa Jaudon Bush, 54, pleaded no contest to a single count of organized scheme to defraud on Thursday before Circuit Judge Howard Maltz.

Though she won’t be sentenced until January, her plea form filed in the case indicates that Bush will spend five years on drug offender probation with the special condition that she will serve 180 days in jail with the last part of that spent in the jail’s drug treatment program.

Adjudication of guilt will be withheld, and Bush will have to pay back more than $17,000 for the cost of the investigation, the form says.

Bush was arrested Aug. 11 on the fraud charge after a months-long investigation by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.

Bush’s arrest warrant and associated offense report said that the investigation found that she stole $13,433.53 from 593 people.

According to her arrest warrant, in a June 6 meeting with authorities and her attorney, Bush, who was hired by the Tax Collector’s Office in 2007, said that she took the money to support a drug habit and that she had been conducting the illegal transactions the entire time she worked there.

Prosecutors never filed charges for a single count of official misconduct that was included in the warrant.

Bush’s sentencing is set for Jan. 9.

 

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