Former Smithfield clerk given probation sentence

STEUBENVILLE – The former Smithfield water and sewer clerk who stole $37,000 in public money was given probation Monday after telling the court she’d already repaid most of it.

Seventy-two-year-old Katherine L. Staten of Rayland told Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge Joseph Bruzzese she would repay the $7,855 she still owes in $200 monthly increments. She has up to five years to repay the money, but at a $200 monthly clip the debt would be repaid in a little more than three years, her attorney, Costa Mastros said. Once the debt is satisfied her probation will end.

Staten, who pled guilty to theft in office during Monday’s proceedings, also must complete 100 hours of community service, which she has already begun to do.

Mastros told the court there were no excuses for his client’s actions, “but there are explanations.”

Staten told Bruzzese she’d become addicted to gambling.

“I had a gambling habit I didn’t realize I had,” she said. “I was (stealing) money when customers paid in cash.”

Staten was responsible for billing, collecting and depositing water and sewer receipts.

She told Bruzzese she was able to repay most of the funds she took – $30,000 – thanks to a “fantastic” family member who’d given her the money. That money was repaid on April 26, 2010.

“I’m just glad I’m getting it behind me, I’m just sorry for what I did,” she said, adding, “My family got me through it.”

Staten, who was indicted in February, admitted to pocketing customer money from September 2008 until sometime in 2010, when the theft was detected. She subsequently was named in a state auditor’s office finding for recovery issued in December 2011.

Staten told Bruzzese she lost the money playing nickel slot games in West Virginia.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Staten is barred from all gaming activities.

Prosecutor Michael Calabria told Bruzzese that, given her age and the fact that she had no prior arrests, probation, community service and restitution was an appropriate sentence.