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Woman withdraws plea in forgery case
A woman who pleaded guilty last year to more than 250 counts of financial transaction card fraud, forgery or theft by taking appeared before the circuit's chief judge Wednesday to withdraw her plea.

Linda Purvis McNeal was initially indicted May 26, 2010, on 79 counts of forgery in the first degree and one count of theft by taking for allegedly defrauding Egger Security on St. Simons Island of nearly $28,000 in checks between January and October of 2006.

Later, in July 2010, McNeal was indicted for 198 counts of financial transaction card fraud and one count of theft by taking for allegedly defrauding Alexander Morrison and his business, The Cigar Guy, on St. Simons Island of more than $100,000 by making unauthorized purchases with a credit card.

According to a motion filed Aug. 10 by McNeal's attorney, Wrix McIlvaine, a guilty plea McNeal filed on Feb. 10, 2011, before Superior Court Judge Anthony Harrison should be withdrawn.

According to court records, Harrison accepted McNeal's plea of guilty to 10 counts of forgery and one count of theft from the first indictment and all 199 counts of the second indictment, but he recused himself from sentencing her, citing a conflict of interest.

Superior Court Judge Roger Lane then picked up the case and sentenced McNeal.

But after McNeal and her attorney said Lane had a business relationship with one of the companies named in the indictments, Lane also recused himself from the case.

McNeal went before Brunswick Judicial Circuit Chief Judge E.M. Wilkes Wednesday in Wayne County Superior Court to have the guilty plea withdrawn, according to McIlvaine. But instead of hearing the motion in full, Wilkes inquired into Lane's reported conflict of interest.

Lane was reportedly a former customer of Egger Security, and Wilkes ruled there was not significant conflict.

Lane will proceed over the guilty plea withdrawal, McIlvaine said.



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