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Published: Wednesday, 8/1/2007

Republic fiscal chief gets 2 years for stealing


TIFFIN The former fiscal officer for the Seneca County village of Republic was sentenced yesterday to two years in prison for stealing more than $47,000 from village coffers.

Teresa L Sutter, 44, pleaded guilty June 1 to theft in office and tampering with records after an investigation revealed she had written payroll checks to herself for time that was not worked, reimbursed herself for expenses that were not incurred, made personal purchases on the village s credit card, and credited utility accounts for payments that were not made.

Seneca County Prosecutor Ken Egbert, Jr., said Sutter even used a village credit card to buy three cell phones for her family and pay for a hotel room in Kentucky for a family vacation. He said that in addition to the $47,482 in stolen funds, the village was forced to spend $7,740 to reconstruct computer-generated financial records that Sutter had altered to facilitate the embezzlement.

As part of Sutter s sentence, Seneca County Common Pleas Judge Michael Kelbley ordered her to pay $50,237 in restitution to the village the amount of Republic s total loss minus $5,000 the village received from her bonding insurance.

Mr. Egbert had asked the judge to send her to prison for eight years.

I thought a lengthy prison sentence was appropriate because she violated the public trust. She used her position as a fiscal officer to facilitate the crimes, and the large amount of the loss, he said.

Village officials, including Mayor Lori Wise, told the court that the stolen funds constituted about 40 percent of the village s general fund for the year. Sutter was suspended and then fired last April after the missing funds were discovered.

Sutter, who was taken directly to the Seneca County jail after sentencing, made a brief statement to the court saying she was sorry and that she had taken advantage of her position. She will be eligible to apply for judicial release in six months.

Mr. Egbert said he was disappointed with the sentence and concerned the village will never be fully repaid.

I don t think the sentence sufficiently reflects the extent of the embezzlement, and it s not just in terms of Sutter but also to deter others, Mr. Egbert said.

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