Cloverdale woman gets prison time for $38,000 in thefts from employers
With yet another evidently unpretentious female suspect seated before him to await sentencing for an admitted white-collar crime, Judge Matthew Headley couldn't resist commenting on what has become an unimaginable pattern of local indiscretion.
"This is another case in our community of employment theft," the Putnam Circuit Court judge said Wednesday afternoon in pronouncing sentence seemingly not just on Kimberly A. Wright, 46, Cloverdale, alone but on local society as well.
"Unfortunately more and more and more of these things keep happening in our community," Headley noted, quite obviously perturbed at having presided over similar cases in which apparently trustworthy longtime employees have stolen funds from doctor's offices, churches, accounting firms, educational cooperatives, banks and local industry.
"I wish we never have another case like this," Headley said, "but unfortunately there's probably another one like it occurring today here somewhere in Putnam County."
Unsuspecting emp-loyers never seem to expect theft initially, he said, and wonder what's gone wrong with their business or their accounting efforts or their investment skills.
Headley also noted that "most likely it (the perpetrator) is a female for whatever reason."
"And it always starts with a little bit," he added, "and they're always going to pay it back, and then it escalates, and you can't ever pay it back."
Headley might as well have been narrating the story of Wright, who in February reached a plea agreement by pleading guilty to forgery in a case in which she was charged with taking more than $38,000 from two Cloverdale organizations over about a five-year period.
For that, she was sentenced Wednesday to a six-year sentence with the judge requiring 2-1/2 years to be executed via a Department of Correction commitment. The first 18 months of that sentence will be served in a DOC facility, Headley ordered, with the following year under supervision of the Community Corrections program, should Wright so qualify.
After that she will complete the sentence via probation and is ordered to make full restitution.
In fact, Judge Headley gave her a chance to start making good on that restitution by delaying Wright's DOC reporting date until June 1.
That will give Wright an opportunity to work during May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where she said she can make as much as $2,500 by cleaning suites. She earlier said she has saved up another $2,500 to begin paying restitution.
Headley told her to pay that amount now and pay another $2,500 after May.
"It's not gong to satisfy the victims," the judge surmised in pronouncing sentencing for Wright. "They want you to go to jail today. But that (the opportunity to accumulate restitution funds) is the reason I'm doing it."
Alleged to have taken an estimated $38,121.85 from the Stardust Hills Property Owners Association and Cloverdale Main Street groups, Wright originally faced two counts of theft, a Class D felony, along with the forgery charge.
On Feb. 21, Wright pleaded guilty to forgery, a Class C felony, in exchange for the state dropping the two counts of theft.
The defendant served as office manager of the Stardust Hills Owners Association from February 2006 until mid-February 2012. She was treasurer for Cloverdale Main Street for two years.
Authorities discovered that Wright took approximately $33,000 for personal use while serving as office manager for the Stardust Hills group. She has also admitted taking an estimated $5,000 from Main Street.
Wright was arrested by officers from the Special Investigation Section of the Indiana State Police last March 7.
Among the funds she took from Main Street was reportedly money set aside for the Cloverdale Christmas celebration last year.
Kay Gedert, who has been involved in both affected organizations, testified Wednesday that Wright "cleaned out everything except $200," forcing Main Street members to "dip into their own pockets" for $300-$400 each in order to "not let the children down at Christmas."
Gedert said she wanted to see Wright serve four years in prison, the presumptive sentence for a forgery conviction.
"It was premeditated," Gedert said. "She stole from the children. She stole from little kids who don't have anything."
Wright also arranged the opportunity for Stardust Hill residents to pay their dues monthly in cash instead of one annual lump-sum payment.
Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter noted that she then routinely received those cash payments from people "who couldn't afford to pay annual dues."
"So you took that money and put it in your pocket, right?" Bookwalter asked.
"Generally, yes," Wright agreed.
The thefts reportedly occurred over the period Feb. 1, 2007 to Feb. 1, 2012.
During an interview with police, Wright admitted making "several poor decisions" regarding purchases made with credit cards and checks entrusted to her.
She admitted using credit cards and checks under her control to fund such expenditures as Christmas gifts, gift cards, her mortgage, her electric bill, her cell phone bill, clothing, school supplies, a microwave oven, a camera, a Kindle reader, two computer routers, cleaning supplies and food.