Jail time could be in former South Amherst clerk Kimberly Green’s future.
She pleaded guilty Thursday to theft in office, admitting to stealing at least $600,000 from village taxpayers over a two-year period.
The plea came months ahead of a November trial but was no surprise for mayor Dave Leshinski, who was briefed by prosecutors that the case would likely never go before a jury.
“I would like the residents to express publicly what type of retribution or restitution should be put upon this person who has devastated the village and made every person here a victim,” he told the News-Times. “We are upset and we would like her to see a form of punishment that fits the crime.”
It’s possible Green will be given probation at her sentencing next month.
Leshinski said that would be an insult. He intends to speak at the sentencing hearing, asking for a maximum sentence.
Green, now 54, was appointed treasurer in 2010 and was elected to the office in 2012 for a full term.
When South Amherst police opened an investigation into missing money with Green as the prime suspect, she resigned from office.
Then-mayor Barbara Becker was out on medical leave and Leshinski was standing in when he started to get reports that certain vendors weren’t getting paid. “The response from Mrs. Green when I approached her was that something must have gotten lost in the mail,” he recalled.
But South Amherst police Lt. Michael Frazier found Green was spending public funds on Ohio lottery tickets.
Leshinski said that as a money-handler for the village she’d been bonded for $10,000. There is no way to reclaim the other $590,000 in missing cash, though — and Frazier has said on more than one occasion that much more was likely stolen.
It’s also possible Green will be ordered to pay restitution though it’s unlikely the village will ever see a significant amount of cash.
Her home, owned jointly with former village councilman John Green, who resigned in the wake of his wife’s indictment, is her biggest asset. It is only valued at $127,900, county records show.
“There are a lot of things we want that we can’t afford now,” Leshinski said after the plea. He said there is enough cash to keep the village operating but Green burned through rainy day cash and money market investments. “We trusted her completely. (Before her) we pretty much had the village running as a fine-oiled machine. We knew where every dime and nickel was.”
The village has since put steps in place to ensure there are checks and balances on the money, and no one can write checks to themselves.
The case resulted in the firing of two state workers tasked with checking South Amherst records for irregularities. They had apparently signed off on balance sheets without catching the thefts.
Auditor of State Dave Yost visited Amherst in September to publicly and angrily announced he’d terminated William Barile, a 23-year employee of the state office, and his direct supervisor, Donna Busser.
“This morning I fired that son of a (expletive),” Yost said of Barile, later adding, “It is unclear whether Mr. Barile acted out of simple negligence or by other motivations.”
Jim Milton, the senior auditor overseeing Busser and Barile’s work, was demoted to audit manager and suspended for five days.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.