The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

July 3, 2013

Sheriff’s Department secretary arrested for alleged embezzling

By Jessica Farrish
Register-Herald Reporter

— A secretary in the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department was arrested last Thursday for allegedly embezzling from the department, Fayette Sheriff Steve Kessler said Friday.

According to Kessler, Cheryl Lynn Gray, 42, of Oak Hill, was charged with one count each of embezzlement and falsifying accounts and two counts of forgery, all felonies, for embezzling more than $30,000 from the sheriff’s department over the past several months.

Kessler said his office was notified June 20 that funds had been misappropriated and the Detective’s Bureau was assigned to open an investigation.

Kessler said that according to the criminal complaint filed in Magistrate Court, “Cheryl Gray has been systematically stealing money that was received in the front office of the sheriff’s office in payment for concealed weapon permits, copies of reports, home confinement fees, the service of civil process and other services provided by the sheriff’s office.”

“In order to cover up this theft, Cheryl Gray was allegedly creating and maintaining false receipt books and submitting fraudulent and inaccurate reports to the tax office of the sheriff’s office.”

Gray was arraigned in Fayette Magistrate Court and released on $2,500 bond.

Gray is cooperating with investigators, said Kessler.

He said no tax money was impacted by Gray’s theft.

“Individuals who paid for concealed weapons permits received the permits for which they had paid and individuals received the other services for which they had remitted payment,” said Kessler. “The victim in this case was the sheriff’s office itself.”

Kessler added that the stolen money would have been used to maintain and supplement operation of his office, primarily a fund for concealed weapons licensing.

“This account is used for multiple purposes, including paying for advanced training for deputy sheriffs and purchasing special equipment for use by my deputies,” said Kessler.

The sheriff said he was “extremely disappointed” to learn of the alleged embezzlement and that Gray was terminated from her secretarial position.

“We conduct background checks on all potential employees, and we try to hire good people to work here,” he said. “Unfortunately, sometimes bad applicants slip through the cracks. I will not tolerate theft or other misconduct by employees.”

He added that Gray will have the same level of “constitutional protection as any other criminal defendant.”

The case is still under investigation by Fayette Sheriff’s detectives.

Tips may be submitted to Kessler at 304-574-4263 or http://fayettesheriffwv.net or on Facebook at “Fayette County Sheriff’s Department.”

— E-mail: jfarrish@register-herald.com