The county clerk in Wayne County has pleaded guilty in a theft case and resigned.
Melissa Turpin, who was charged with stealing nearly $140,000 in two years, is to report to the jail in Wayne County Thursday to begin serving a 60-day sentence even though she won't be formally sentenced until next month.
Turpin, 36, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two charges of theft by unlawful taking and two charges of abuse of public trust, both felonies.
The plea deal calls for a 10-year sentence with most of that time being probated. Turpin is to serve 60 days in jail followed by 120 days on house arrest.
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In that four months, she'll only be allowed to leave home to attend church, though Commonwealth's Attorney Matthew Leveridge said he wouldn't be opposed to allowing her to go to work if she finds a job.
Turpin had to resign as part of the agreement. She turned over the keys to her office Tuesday, said Judge-Executive Greg Rankin.
Turpin also must repay $75,000 to Great American Insurance Co., which had underwritten her performance bond and paid that amount after auditors found money missing from her office. The deal also requires her to pay $64,986 in restitution to the county.
Turpin's attorney, Tom Carroll, was not available Wednesday. Leveridge declined to comment on the plea agreement because the case is still pending.
Circuit Judge Vernon Miniard could reject the plea deal, but that is not likely. Miniard has seen the agreement and could have let the parties know Tuesday if he didn't think it was acceptable.
Turpin had been a deputy clerk in the office for several years before winning the clerk's job in 2006.
A grand jury charged that in her first year in office in 2007, Turpin stole $87,056 — more than her annual salary of $76,000 — and that she took $52,930 in 2008.
The missing money came to light during reviews by State Auditor Crit Luallen's office.
Auditors said Turpin ran up a deficit in her office of $139,986 in 2007 and 2008. More than $118,000 of the shortfall happened because the office took in money but didn't deposit it in the bank, audits showed.
Auditors also said Turpin had more than $21,000 in spending that was poorly documented or not proper, including thousands in payments to her husband for work he allegedly did at her office, such as painting and cleaning.
Luallen's office referred information to state police, who sought an indictment.
The county clerk's office was closed Wednesday and will remain closed until auditors can complete an inventory, said Rankin, the judge-executive.
Auditors must account for vehicle license plates and stickers in the office. That work could be completed by the end of the day Thursday, said Terry Sebastian, spokesman for Luallen's office.
Turpin was indicted in August but had stayed on the job until this week.
It will be Rankin's job to appoint a new clerk. He said he will do that before the office reopens.
He said he plans to act quickly, noting that it is important for people to have access to the county clerk's office.
County clerks perform a variety of jobs, including selling vehicle license plates and recording deeds.
"We're going to do everything we can to get it back open," Rankin said.