Camden probate judge-elect pleads guilty to three felonies
11:05 am, December 12th, 2012
A Camden County associate probate judge who was briefly famous in 1996 when she issued the marriage license for John F. Kennedy Jr. and his bride-to-be pleaded guilty today to three felonies stemming from an ethics investigation by the state Judicial Qualifications Commission, said a special prosecutor who negotiated the plea deal.
Shirley Wise, an associate probate judge who in November was elected chief probate judge of the county, pleaded guilty to theft by taking, theft by deception, and violating her oath of office, a felony under Georgia law, said Brian Rickman, the district attorney of Georgia’s Mountain Circuit who was appointed as a special prosecutor to handle the criminal case by Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens.
David Cavender, Chief Superior Court Judge of the Atlantic Judicial Circuit, sentenced Wise as a first offender to seven years probation and ordered her to pay $5,500 in restitution to the county and a $1,000 fine, Rickman said after the plea hearing.
Wise also agreed, as a special condition of her sentence, that she would not seek or accept any public office – an agreement that was not limited to a judicial post, Rickman said.
Wise’s attorney, James Stein of St. Mary’s, said that in pleading guilty, Wise accepted responsibility for her actions and mitigated expenses for Camden County’s taxpayers “who would have been burdened with the expenses of a trial” if she had chosen to fight the charges.
“It was in the best interest of all concerned,” he said. “Serious consideration was given to mitigating expenses for everyone concerned. … The whole purpose was to put this thing to rest and stop the clock on expenses of the county and everyone concerned.”