DELRAY BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Traffic tickets tossed out, drivers who should have lost their licenses allowed back on the roads, and investigators say one woman's to blame.
A former courthouse clerk is now charged with using her power to help her family and friends.
Police say the woman used her position at work to pull some strings for her friends and relatives, and she didn't just do this once or twice. They say she did it over and over again.
Suppose you got a speeding ticket with a hefty fine or your driver's license was suspended. No problem, police say, if you knew 27-year-old Shvonne Butler. They say Butler, who worked as a traffic clerk at the South County Courthouse in Delray Beach, would use her position at work to alter computer records to help out her friends and family members.
"She was a deputy clerk, and she had access to electronic records and was able to manipulate the system electronically to, for example, cancel motor vehicle driver's license suspensions or fines," said Mike Driscoll, Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Butler is facing 23 charges of official misconduct for allegedly going into the computer system at the clerk's office where she worked and changing license suspensions, fines and dismissing traffic cases for her family and friends.
This went on for about a year, and she did it over and over until she was caught during an internal audit. "We were unable to determine that she was accepting any money or payment for it," said Driscoll. "It's suspected that maybe she had been. But we don't have any evidence, solid evidence, that she was."
Butler was fired by the clerk's office in August 2009 when the situation was discovered, but Monday, investigators finally had enough evidence to arrest her. "I don't think she gave it a whole lot of thought," Driscoll said. "She was just surprised to see us."
Patrons, who use the clerk's office where Butler once worked, say they're surprised by the allegations that an employee would misuse her position like that. "I am amazed that they would think they could get away with it," May Smith said. "Sooner or later you know what happens? They catch you."
"I'm disappointed and feel very disheartened," Muriel Fierman added.
Authorities say taxpayers aren't out any money because any records that Butler altered have been corrected, so there's no financial loss to the public.
If convicted, Butler could get up to 115 years in prison. That's five years for each of the 23 charges. She has no prior criminal record.