Mayor candidate pleads guilty to theft by conversion

COVINGTON - Kathy Harvey, a candidate for mayor of Conyers in the Nov. 3 election, pleaded guilty Monday in Newton County Superior Court to theft by conversion, a felony.

According to Assistant District Attorney Anne Kurtz, Harvey was sentenced to five years on probation and payment of a $1,000 fine and surcharges.

"She was ordered to pay restitution for the full amount that was at issue in the case," Kurtz said. "It was a little over $6,000, and the judge did grant her first-offender status."

According to Kurtz, "When you have been granted first-offender treatment, you can still say that you have never been convicted of a felony."

"Technically for the five years she will be considered a first-offender probationer," Kurtz said.

If Harvey completes her sentence as mandated by the court, the felony will not appear on her record.

The Georgia Secretary of State's office could not be reached for comment Monday on whether Harvey would remain eligible to seek elective office as a first-offender probationer. Harvey could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

Harvey was scheduled to go to trial before Judge Horace Johnson on Monday on charges of forgery and theft by conversion but entered a guilty plea to the theft by conversion charge instead.

According to court documents obtained by the Citizen, Harvey allegedly cashed an insurance check for $6,060.44 received as payment to a business doing carpeting work in her Newton County home on July 21, 2004.

A warrant was issued for Harvey's arrest two months later. Court papers indicated Harvey entered a not guilty plea in court on Jan. 11, 2006. However, after that Newton County authorities could not locate her. The case was moved to the court's dead docket on July 28, 2007.

Since then, authorities were able to locate Harvey and her case was reactivated and placed on the trial calendar.

Harvey has faced in other troubles in recent years, as well. In 2005, her house in the Pebble Brooke subdivision was foreclosed on. Also, federal court documents show Harvey has filed for bankruptcy protection six times - the first in 1986 and most recently in 2005.

Harvey is seeking her first term in office, challenging incumbent Mayor Randy Mills in next week's balloting.

Harvey said earlier this month that her foreclosure and bankruptcy issues would not affect her ability to govern as mayor.

She also said the part-time mayor position does not have total control over the city's $18.1 million budget but it is handled by the city manager and finance director. Harvey said a personal bankruptcy "does not take away from your capacity or your talent just because you were part of the downturn in the economy."

News editor Jay Jones contributed to this report.