Former state social worker indicted for allegedly falsifying records

abuse, neglect cases involved

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comAugust 3, 2011 

An Anderson County grand jury returned a nine-count indictment Tuesday against a former state social worker who is accused of falsifying records in abuse and neglect cases.

The grand jury indicted Margaret "Geri" Murphy, 60, on nine counts of tampering with public records in her role investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Attorney General Jack Conway said.

The indictment does not provide details about the alleged falsifications, except to say Murphy "knowingly made a false entry in a public record." The alleged offenses occurred from December 2007 to October 2010, the indictment said.

A criminal summons has been issued for Murphy to appear in Anderson Circuit Court on Sept. 6. The summons lists a Florida address for Murphy, who could not be reached by the Herald-Leader for comment on Tuesday.

"My office began investigating this case after receiving a complaint from a citizen who had Murphy assigned to a court case involving her family," Conway said in a statement Tuesday. "As we began to review Murphy's cases, we believe she falsified information in multiple cases that were assigned by the cabinet to investigate."

Conway said he has notified the cabinet that documents filed in court proceedings might have been falsified.

Tabitha Stratton of Anderson County told the Herald-Leader on Tuesday that she contacted the attorney general's office within the past several months after she read in "case files" that Murphy said "she had been to my home and interviewed me and my husband."

Murphy "had never spoken to me, she had never been to my home, nor did she ever meet me," said Stratton, who obtained the case files from the cabinet under the Kentucky Open Records Act.

In abuse and neglect cases, social workers make findings about the validity of allegations and document their work in a report titled a "continuous quality assessment.".

All of the charges in the indictment allege that Murphy made a false entry in a continuous quality assessment report for the Department for Community Based Services in Anderson County, officials in Conway's office said.

Cabinet spokeswoman Jill Midkiff confirmed for the Herald-Leader in June that Murphy had been under investigation and that she had resigned.

The cabinet "reviewed case files and took any necessary action," Midkiff said at the time.

Murphy's resignation letter, which the Herald-Leader obtained under the Open Records Act, was dated December 20. The letter gave no reason for the resignation, which was effective Jan. 3.

On Tuesday, Midkiff said the cabinet had no comment about the indictment.

The attorney general's Office of Special Prosecutions is prosecuting Murphy at the request of Laura Donnell, commonwealth's attorney for Anderson, Shelby and Spencer counties.

Tampering with public records is a Class D felony punishable by one to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 on each count.

An indictment tells only one side of a story.

Reach Valarie Honeycutt Spears at (859) 231-3409 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3409.

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