Versailles woman is accused of embezzling more than $69,000 from pet-rescue organization

gkocher1@herald-leader.comApril 25, 2014 

LAWRENCEBURG — A Versailles woman is accused of embezzling more than $69,000 from an Anderson County pet-rescue organization. The same woman was making monthly payments on $25,000 in restitution after pleading guilty in 2012 to theft in Woodford County.

Melanie Aitken, 47, was indicted earlier this month by an Anderson County grand jury on three counts of theft over $10,000, a class C felony punishable by five to 10 years in prison.

Each count alleges that Aitken exerted control over property of $10,000 or more belonging to Home at Last Inc., a non-profit animal sanctuary with a mailing address in Salvisa. Aitken was treasurer for the organization; she was a volunteer and did not receive payment for her services.

Court records indicate that $69,646.29 was taken between January 2010 and August 2013.

Aitken was arrested and initially held in the Shelby County Detention Center, but she was released after posting 10 percent of a $100,000 bond. She could not be reached for comment Friday.

Margie Gill, president of Home at Last, reported suspicious activity to the Anderson County Sheriff's Office on Sept. 13, 2013, according to an investigative report filed in the court record.

Gill told a detective that she and others on the non-profit board realized that "Aitken had been writing herself checks and using a PayPal account to transfer funds out of" Home at Last's account.

During a Sept. 23, 2013 interview with Detective Brian Taylor of the Anderson County Sheriff's Office, the report says, "Aitken admitted to using funds from Home at Last to help her with her house payment, paying for physical therapy, and more."

During the investigation, Taylor became aware that Aitken had been charged with two counts of theft over $10,000 in Woodford County. The victim in the two counts was Alison Meyer of Nicholasville, owner of Two Chicks and Co., a jewelry and gifts store. She is also the wife of Nicholasville Mayor Russ Meyer.

Records in the Woodford Circuit Court Clerk's Office show that Aitken was making payments of $210 per month on a total restitution amount of $25,000. One count from 2011 was dismissed, while the restitution was being made on the other count as part of an unsupervised pretrial diversion for a period of five years.

Under a pretrial diversion, a judge agrees not to impose a sentence as long as a defendant commits no other crimes and abides by any other conditions. The Anderson County charges would appear to jeopardize the Woodford County diversion and a judge might decide she should serve the full sentence on the case there.

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety

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