Kimberly Green’s face remained an emotionless mask as she was led away Thursday in handcuffs, sentenced to six months behind bars at the Lorain County Jail.
While there, the disgraced former South Amherst clerk will be released five days a week to work her $9 per hour job at General Plug in Grafton.
“You violated the public trust,” Lorain County Court of Common Pleas judge James Miraldi told her before handing down a mixed sentence.
He did not opt to toss her in prison for the maximum time allowed, as prosecutor Donna Freeman requested.
But Green will work her entire life to pay back the $677,000 she stole from village taxpayers. She will also be on probation the next five years and will be required to continue getting psychiatric treatment and attend Gamblers Anonymous meetings.
“I could impose huge fines but it wouldn’t get me anywhere and it would get in the way of restitution to South Amherst,” Miraldi told her.
Green’s attorney, Jack Bradley, argued that his client confessed to police who knocked on her door with a search warrant and that she wasn’t likely to commit another felony.
He mapped out a five-year schedule to begin repaying what she stole, and which she mostly used to buy Ohio Lottery tickets at the Sunoco gas station where she also worked across the street from village hall.
Already, $12,500 in winnings have been turned over to the Lorain County prosecutor’s office and after taxes about $8,800 of the amount will be returned to South Amherst. Another $4,586 in winning tickets confiscated by police from Green’s home will also be given to the village.
Bradley said Green will also sign over a little more than $10,000 from her pension, although about 20 percent of that money may go to state taxes.
She also will pay $560 per month — about half her wages — in restitution. Her husband, John Green, who resigned from the South Amherst village council amid the scandal, also volunteered to pay $400 from his wages.
The couple also pledged $1,000 or more per year from income tax refunds and $25,000 from the sale of their home.
If Green fails to put any of that cash forward or violates her parole in any way, Miraldi promised to give her the maximum sentence of six years in prison.
“I understand that whatever sanction the court imposes, there are going to be people who are happy and people who are unhappy,” he said, but explained he wanted a sentence that would punish Green for her actions while also returning stolen money to South Amherst taxpayers.
Whenever a resident sees an unfilled pothole or burned out street light, “the first thing that comes to mind will be, ‘Damn it, Kimberly Green,’” Miraldi said.
Green was indicted last year on several counts of theft in office and tampering with evidence. Facing a jury trial late this fall, she decided to plead guilty in July.
The scandal decimated the coffers of the small village on Rt. 113 between Amherst and Oberlin, which has a population of roughly 1,600.
South Amherst councilwoman Donna Hauck said when the thefts were discovered, she was given copies of all the discrepancies to calculate how much money was missing.
Some days, Green wrote $30,000 in checks to herself, then walked to Sunoco to cash them and buy scratch-off tickets, Hauck said. In all, Green wrote more than 360 unauthorized checks to herself over the course of a year and a half — and that doesn’t include charges to village credit card accounts.
“In my mind, each one of these checks written is a separate criminal act and should be taken into account for sentencing,” Hauck told the judge. “Not only did Kimberly Green steal from the village, she destroyed the faith that people living in a small community have in their neighbor’s honesty.”
South Amherst mayor Dave Leshinski also spoke at the sentencing, saying the former clerk’s thefts left residents bewildered and angry.
“You are not welcome in this town. People wanted to desecrate your parents’ graves,” he told Green, accusing her of a history of misusing booster club, retail store, and personal finances and calling her a swindler and robber who knew what she was doing was “against the commandments of God.”
He said in addition to lottery tickets, Green used public funds to buy herself food, Harley-Davidson gift cards, and a Kindle, none of which could be defended as symptomatic of gambling addiction.
That’s how Green explained the thefts to Miraldi, characterizing herself as someone who suffers from the illness of compulsive gambling. She said she considered herself someone “who always did the right thing” and “will help anyone.”
“I am sorry: three words that mean so much and yet in my case are not enough,” she said in a prepared statement, asking for forgiveness.
Those words infuriated Leshinski, who said Green had never shown remorse for the thefts until her sentencing. He said she has a “gambling obsession” and not an illness.
Bradley, however, compared his client’s gambling problem to alcohol and drug addiction.
He pointed out her Gambling Anonymous sponsor in the courtroom and said Green has been attending meetings in Lakewood since there are no such meetings in Lorain County. However, Green is working to help launch a program here, he said.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times Kimberly Green is handcuffed and taken from a Lorain County common pleas courtroom Thursday after being sentenced to six months in jail with work release.
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