Former Nelsonville Deputy Auditor Sentenced To Prison For Embezzlement

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Nelsonville’s former deputy auditor was sentenced Monday to nearly five years in prison for stealing money from the city for several years while in office.

Stephanie Wilson, 47, was also ordered to pay back the more than $200,000 she stole. She had previously pleaded guilty to multiple charges connected with the thefts.

Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn asked the court that Wilson be sentenced to six years in prison. He cited her betrayal of trust, the creation of one or more false identities and using her son’s account to embezzle the funds, the impact on the financially strapped city and her lack of remorse.

Stephanie Wilson [Athens County Prosecutor’s Office]
“This is a serious theft offense. (Wilson) has been doing this for more than four years,” Blackburn said in court Monday. “This was a conscious decision each time payroll was processed to steal money from the city of Nelsonville… Nelsonville could have done a lot with that $213,000 dollars.” 

 Wilson is facing additional charges in a separate indictment related to the thefts. The charges are engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a second-degree felony, and theft in office, a third-degree felony. She pleaded not guilty to those charges and was placed under a $2.5 million bond. That case is still pending.

Wilson was sentenced to four years, 11 months for the initial round of charges to which she pleaded guilty. Under state law, she will be eligible to apply for judicial release after serving six months. A five-year sentence would have required her to serve four years before she was eligible for judicial release, according to the prosecutor’s office.

“We requested six years in prison because based on the amount of money she stole, we thought that was fair,” Blackburn said in a statement after the hearing. “The sentence the court chose allows Wilson to apply for judicial release. The state opposes a release unless and until significant restitution is made.” 

Judge George McCarthy ordered Wilson to pay full restitution of $213,918.31. He also ordered that her Public Employee Retirement System funds be forfeited to the city.

The judge also fined Wilson $20,000 and agreed to suspend the fine if restitution was made in a timely and reasonable manner. He ordered her to pay a minimum of $100 per month but emphasized that paying it back in full quickly would be to her benefit.

Current Nelsonville City Auditor Taylor Sappington read a letter into the record on behalf of the city and its employees saying one of the poorest cities in the state was “shocked and devastated” to learn that one of its trusted public servants had stolen from them.

City Manager Scott Frank added the city “suffered as a team” as a result of Wilson’s actions. 

McCarthy admonished Wilson for betraying Nelsonville’s trust and betraying her fiduciary responsibilities. The judge added his displeasure she has not made any effort to make restitution to this point and has not been able to inform the court as to the whereabouts of the stolen funds. He did, however, find that Wilson was remorseful for her actions.