Theft in office

Holding back sobs, a former Marietta City Schools employee pleaded guilty Monday in Washington County Common Pleas Court to slowly siphoning away more than $145,000 from the district for personal use.

“Please accept my guilty plea,” said former Marietta City Schools assistant treasurer Barbara Mincks as Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Randall Burnworth wrapped up the plea proceedings.

Burnworth did accept the plea, and now Mincks, 53, of 60 Warner Second St., Lower Salem, will be required to pay back the money she stole from the district.

That satisfies the school district, said Board of Education president Greg Gault.

“I think the No. 1 concern for the district was recovering the funds that had been stolen, and that appears to have been addressed,” he said when contacted after the hearing.

As part of the restitution agreement, Mincks will sign over the rights to the retirement benefits she accrued during her 28 years working for the school district, said Washington County Prosecutor Jim Schneider.

Her retirement account is believed to be worth between $90,000 to $100,000, he added.

Mincks was indicted in December on a third-degree felony county of theft in office after officials from the Ohio Auditor’s Office uncovered evidence of the possible theft during an October audit.

At that point, Mincks had been stealing money for more than five years, pointed out Schneider.

The thefts date back to June 2007, he said.

Mincks resigned in October to save the school district from going through the termination process, said her attorney, Rolf Baumgartel, at the time of her resignation. At that time, Mincks had a $37,000 annual salary.

All told, she stole $145,183.51 from the district by finding uncashed, long-outstanding checks and reissuing them to herself, he said.

“She prepared and created documents to cover that up and try to hide that,” said Schneider.

Among other things, Mincks had used the money to pay off her daughter’s student loans and to throw her daughter a lavish wedding ceremony, said Schneider.

The plea agreement also contained a sentencing component, he said.

On top of paying restitution, Mincks will have to spend 120 days in the Washington County Jail and she will be subject to three years community control, he said.

Burnworth approved the sentencing agreement pending the results of a pre-sentence investigation.

“If it would indicate a pattern of criminal behavior we’re not aware of, that sentencing agreement can be revoked,” he noted.

Mincks had faced a maximum of three years in prison and a $10,000 fine in the case.

The state asked the court to waive the fine so that precedence could be given to restitution, said Schneider.

“I’m glad she’s making restitution,” said Marietta City Schools Superintendent Harry Fleming. “It’s a sad situation, and it’s good we can put it behind us.”

As assistant treasurer, Mincks was in charge of coordinating the education management information system (EMIS), said Fleming. The statewide data collection system includes demographic, attendance, course information, financial data and test results, according to the Ohio Department of Education.

That job has been filled on a temporary basis, he said.

Mincks is scheduled to be sentenced May 21 at 4 p.m.