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Published: Thursday, 7/31/2008

Former bookkeeper admits to stealing more than $126,000 from county office

BLADE STAFF

A former bookkeeper for the Lucas County Clerk of Courts admitted Thursday to stealing more than $126,000 while employed by the county.

Tina Lake, 47, who recently moved to Florida, pleaded guilty in Lucas County Common Pleas Court to one count each of aggravated theft and theft in office and to five counts of forgery. She also agreed to pay full restitution plus the cost of the investigation, although a final figure has not been determined.

Lake, who was hired as a deputy clerk in 1998, faces up to 15 years in prison when sentenced Sept. 2 by Judge Gene Zmuda.

Authorities said Lake stole money over a six-year period from the Auto Title division of the clerk s office where she was bookkeeper. She would deposit the money taken in on a given day, minus some of the cash paid in by county residents. The five forgery charges were examples of when the bank slips accompanying the deposits did not match the amount of money brought in on that day, Assistant County Prosecutor Robert Miller said.

"These are examples if you will of what occurred during this time period," he said during the unscheduled morning hearing.

The thefts occurred, he added, between 2003 and 2008 although the charges only relate to the money stolen between January, 2005, through January of this year. In exchange for her plea, Lake will not be criminally charged for any thefts that occurred before January, 2005, although she will be forced to pay the money back as part of the restitution, Mr. Miller said.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com



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