Caressie Lynn Reasor, 19, Route 2, Box 281, Big Stone Gap, and Elizabeth Adriane Metcalfe, 22, Route 2, Box 35, Ewing, are accused of pocketing nearly $6,000 in cash over a seven-month period. While Reasor had resigned her position prior to the discovery of the missing money, Metcalfe was terminated upon discovery of the theft. Both individuals had worked part time for the office at different points during the time period — July 2006 to January 2007 — that the funds were stolen.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Shawn Hines said the investigation into the thefts began when Virginia State Auditor of Public Accounts Walter J. Kucharski called to inform him of the suspected irregularities. Shortly thereafter, he said, Treasurer Ikey Joe Chadwell informed his office of the matter and provided details of the suspected criminal activity for his review.
Hines said because the matter involved possible criminal activity conducted from within a constitutional office, he requested that the Virginia State Police conduct the investigation. The investigation was finalized and findings reported to Hines during the last week of August, and the charges went before the next grand jury. No other individuals were found to have participated in the thefts, he said. The charges are a Class 4 felony and carry a penalty of two to 10 years in prison.
The prosecutor alleges that the two were responsible for collecting money directly from county residents who came in to make payments on county taxes and wheel tax decals. Most of the money taken by the two, he said, came from money paid by those making penalty and interest payments or for decals. However, the investigation shows there were three instances of money taken on payments toward the actual principal amount of tax due on county property.
Hines said the two employees would take cash payments and give that person a receipt and/or a decal as is normal for such transactions. Then the two would void those transactions out of the computer and pocket the cash, Hines said.
The treasurer’s office became aware of the scheme after a county resident brought in a tax receipt showing that full payment had been made, while the treasurer’s computer showed a voided transaction. From there, Deputy Treasurer Rita McCann conducted an internal audit of the office’s books to discover that $5,972.74 had been voided out of the office’s system since July 2006.
“It appears that the losses suffered at the hands of these two employees belonged to the treasurer’s office itself, rather than any county residents,” said Hines. “That is because those residents whose transactions were voided out of the system by the employees have been given credit by the treasurer’s office for those transactions. As it now stands, the parents of the two past employees have repaid the stolen money back to the treasurer’s office.”
Chadwell said Monday that he learned of the irregularities around the first of the year, and as he is obligated to do as a constitutional officer, he reported his concerns to the state auditor, the Virginia State Police and the commonwealth’s attorney’s office.
“The money was added up and was then put back. The state was pleased, the State Police was pleased, but for some reason right before election an indictment was obtained,” Chadwell said. “Only one side is presented to a grand jury, so I don’t know what he’s going to do or try to show when it goes before a jury. They did something wrong, but they made it right.
“I’ve been here 24 years, and we’ve never had a problem in this office, but sooner or later if someone wants to do something like this, they’re going to be able to do it. They made it right, so why try to prosecute someone that made a mistake when they’ve made it right? What’s he trying to prove? I don’t think we need to drag them through the courts. All he is going to do is destroy the lives of two young people who are going to college and try to better their lives. The timing is suspicious. This was around the first of the year, so why is it coming up now?”
In all Monday, the grand jury indicted 16 individuals on 24 charges. Others indicted and their charges include:
•Donald M. Bolden, 33, 103 Dogwood Ave., Dryden, two counts break and enter, two counts grand larceny, and one count arson.
•Scottie Sam Bostic Jr., 34, P.O. Box 309, Duffield, escape, possess Schedule II controlled substance.
•Tina Lynn Wilder Bryant, 44, Route 1, Box 671, Rose Hill Apartments, Rose Hill, grand larceny, conspiracy.
•Kista R. Cooper, 38, Route 1, Box 15-A, Pennington Gap, obtain controlled substance by fraud.
•Daniel Ryan Cox, 20, 126 Mulberry St., Pennington Gap, possess Schedule II controlled substance.
•Heather Dawn Dale, 24, Route 2, Box 3074, Jonesville, issue bad checks.
•Robert Ray Doss Sr., 56, address unknown, unlawful wounding.
•Jennifer Michelle Gosnell, 32, Route 2, Box 138, Pennington Gap, unlawful wounding.
•David Jones, 26, 429 Robinette Ave., Pennington Gap, grand larceny.
•Margie Helen Leedy, 52, Route 2, Box 2213, Jonesville, make false statement on a firearms purchase form.
•Dustin Robert Surber, 23, Mount Morris, Pa., grand larceny, conspiracy.
•Kelly Webb, 24, Route 1, Box 322, St. Charles, grand larceny.
•Joshua Ray Wilder, 21, whose address is listed on court documents as both Robinette Avenue, Pennington Gap, and Route 3, Box 667-A, Jonesville, two counts abduction.
•Dean Woolwine, 37, address unknown, unlawful wounding.