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Published: Tuesday, 5/23/2006

Fired jail worker is indicted for theft

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A Toledo woman was indicted yesterday for embezzling an estimated $50,000 from a program that charges a processing fee to prisoners booked into the Lucas County jail.

A county grand jury handed up an indictment for felony grand theft against Nora Wallace, 33, who worked at the jail and was terminated last week.

Ms. Wallace, of 1811 Annabelle Drive, was employed by Intellitech Corp., which has a contract with the county to collect the "pay-to-stay" fee from those incarcerated at the jail. The program allows the sheriff to charge $100 to inmates who are booked into the jail and stay for more than a day.

Jim O'Neal, corrections administrator, said Ms. Wallace admitted to taking as much as $700 a day in money taken from prisoners for the processing fee.

"The company has been very cooperative and has promised that they will pay the county to make us whole," he said.

Intellitech, based in Poland, Ohio, near Youngstown, operates pay-for-stay programs in jails statewide. The firm's chief executive officer and owner, John J. Jacobs, could not be reached for comment.

Ms. Wallace was not arrested. Instead, she will receive a summons to appear later in Lucas County Common Pleas Court for arraignment.

Mr. O'Neal said an audit of the program showed discrepancies since January in funds deposited into bank accounts and money that was actually taken from inmates, causing an investigation into the shortfall.

Detective Rob Sarahman, who conducted the investigation, said the defendant admitted to taking the money when she was questioned last week.

Ms. Wallace began working at the jail in June, 2002, when the county implemented the program.

A lawsuit challenging the fees was filed in other jurisdictions, causing the county to put the program on hold for 18 months. Lucas County reinstated the fees in November.

Jail officials said the audit showed the county was collecting $18,000 to $20,000 a month when it should have been receiving $25,000 to $30,000 a month.

If convicted, Ms. Wallace faces a maximum prison sentence of 18 months and a $5,000 fine.



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