A former bookkeeper for the Chambers County Probate Court has been convicted of stealing almost $300,000 from the court, according to Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall.

Rene Welch, 57, of Valley, pleaded guilty on Aug. 12 to violating the Alabama ethics law by using her official position for personal gain.

She was sentenced in Chambers County Circuit Court to 10 years in prison. The sentence was split and she has been ordered to serve 18 months in prison, followed by five years of probation. She was ordered to pay full restitution.

Between July 2013 and December 2017, Welch was employed by former Judge Brandy Easlick of the Chambers County Probate Court. During that time, Welch used her position to steal $299,861.68 from the court. Auditors with the Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts discovered Welch’s theft, and she resigned from her position.

Marshall thanked the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts for its investigative assistance in this case. He commended Assistant Attorneys General Jasper Roberts and Peggy Rossmanith and Special Agents of the Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Division for their work in the case.