Kelley pleads guilty to multiple charges

Times Observer file photo Bethany J. Kelley

The employee who stole from Warren County Christian School over a period of seven years has entered guilty pleas.

On Thursday, Bethany J. Kelley, 55, of Tidioute, entered guilty pleas to six felonies — three counts of forgery; and three counts of access device fraud.

Judge Gregory Hammond explained that each of those counts carries a maximum possible sentence of seven years in prison and a maximum fine of $15,000.

In addition to the jail time and fines, Assistant District Attorney Cody Brown said the Commonwealth would seek in excess of $109,000 in restitution at sentencing.

Kelley’s attorney, Neil Rothschild, said the restitution number is tentative and that he will be looking at the amounts.

Each of the forgery counts represents Kelley misusing the signatures of a school official — or a signature stamp.

In 2012, the total amount of payroll checks Kelley wrote using those signatures was $18,333.08.

The 2014 amount was $14,095.77

Other checks from 2010 through 2017 added up to $12,168.64.

The access device fraud charges relate to Kelley using a credit card issued in Warren County Christian School’s name to purchase merchandise that was not for the school.

The amounts were listed as “in excess of $500” for the years 2014, 2015, and 2017.

In exchange for entering the pleas, the Commonwealth did not prosecute six additional counts of forgery; two of access device fraud; and two of theft by deception.

In May, 2018, Kelley was initially charged with 441 counts, including 155 felonies.

As the case moved on, those charges were narrowed down to 16.

Charges are often consolidated unless they apply to separate victims, District Attorney Rob Greene said.

“It is kind of like someone steals a jar of pennies,” Greene said. “Do you charge once for a theft of $2.92? Or, do you charge 292 counts of theft of a penny?”