Madison County Couple Caught Stealing from Youth Organization

25 February 2014

Two board members of Madison County’s Youth Association were recently arrested after suspicion of stealing more than $10,000 from the parent-run organization.

The couple was charged with violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, said Madison County Sheriff Kip Thomas.

Michael Wade Hawkes and Sherry Hawkes, 40, of Colbert, were arrested last week after a two-month long investigation into the finances of the organization. Sherry Hawkes served as the athletic director for the organization for almost 12 years, while her husband served as the treasurer.

Other members of the association’s board speculated in the past that something was wrong. An investigation followed when members went to the sheriff’s office to express their concerns about the discrepancies in the bank accounts, said Chief Deputy Shawn Burns.

One of the men who went to the sheriff’s office requesting an investigation was volunteer coach Clint Larkin, who has served two years on the board.
“I had suspicions in the past that things weren’t quite right,” said Larkin. “She would hand write the books and bring it to us and I was like there is something wrong with this. She is an accountant for the university and she knows you don’t hand write something and bring it to us.”
Investigators believe the Hawkes were using the money for personal reasons such as vacations, sporting events, gas and food, according to Thomas.

Michael and Sherry Hawkes were also both employed by the University of Georgia. Sherry Hawkes, fired Monday, was an accountant in the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. Her husband, Michael Hawkes was a maintenance worker at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education and is on administrative leave.

“We’re taking steps now so that every dime funded for the kids goes back to the kids,” Larkin said.

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