Auditor: Former county official made ‘numerous improper payments to herself’
A former treasurer of Jackson County stole $161,808 by writing checks to herself and tried to cover the crime by removing pages from financial documents, a federal grand jury charged Thursday.
The grand jury indicted Beth N. Sallee on a total of 10 charges of theft, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
The most serious charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Hanly A. Ingram issued a summons directing Sallee, 37, of McKee, to make an initial court appearance on June 7 at the federal courthouse in London.
The indictment charges that the thefts took place between June 2012 and June 2016.
Sallee allegedly wrote unauthorized checks to herself and forged the names of two other county employees on them to get around a rule requiring two signatures on checks.
In addition to removing some pages from the county’s financial documents, Sallee also tried to cover the thefts by obscuring page numbers on documents with white-out and asked the Jackson County Bank to remove images of checks from documents that were to go to auditors, the indictment charges.
State auditor Mike Harmon’s office identified a number of problems with Jackson County’s finances and bookkeeping in reports issued last year that covered a period when Sallee was treasurer.
The audits said Sallee wrote herself extra checks, including from a federally-funded program that helps counties prepare for emergencies.
At the same time Sallee was padding her pay, she allowed county bills to go unpaid, costing taxpayers extra money for late fees and interest, according to the audits.
Judge-Executive Shane Gabbard said at the time that the county had made changes to fix the problems.
The indictment returned Thursday did not identify the employees whose names Sallee allegedly forged to cash checks, but listed their initials. One was S.G., matching Gabbard’s initials.
Then-Sheriff Denny Peyman cited problems in audits in arresting Sallee and William O. Smith, who was then judge-executive, in January 2014.
Peyman charged the two with forgery, falsifying records and other felonies.
A judge dismissed those charges at the request of a special prosecutor who said there was insufficient evidence to support them.
State police arrested Peyman last year, after he had left office, on charges of growing marijuana and trafficking in steroids.