Justice Court clerk repays $17,700 DA says she embezzles
An East Fork Township Justice Court clerk surrendered Tuesday and repaid $17,700 which she is accused of embezzling.
The clerk, Mary Teresa Fry, 46, of Johnson Lane, repaid the money in a lump sum before a felony charge was filed, according to District Attorney Scott Doyle.
“While she was employed in East Fork Justice Court, she used money posted by defendants and bail companies for her own use,” Doyle said. “There were a number of ways she did it. Most were bail bond fees and cash bails that were the primary means by which the money was taken. The other thing she was doing was ‘lapping’ funds, which means the money received on one case was used to the hide discrepancies in other cases.”
n Chief clerk finds discrepancy. Doyle said Chief Deputy Justice Court Clerk Vicki Owen discovered a discrepancy in June on a $40 fee transaction. He said Owen could not get a satisfactory explanation from Fry and brought the matter to East Fork Justice Jim EnEarl, who immediately put Fry on administrative leave.
Monday, District Judge Michael Gibbons signed a warrant for Fry’s arrest on behalf of the East Fork Justice Township.
Fry voluntarily surrendered herself on that warrant Tuesday.
Her arraignment is scheduled for Dec. 16, in East Fork Justice Court. Doyle said he expects that either Justice of the Peace Stephen McMorris of the Tahoe Township or a neighboring magistrate, rather than Judge Jim EnEarl, will hear the case.
Fry was booked on Tuesday on a criminal complaint of one charge of unlawful use of public money where the amount is $250 or more. The charge is a category D felony with punishment, upon conviction, of imprisonment of 1 to 4 four years and up to a $5,000 fine. Fry would be eligible for probation.
At her arraignment, Fry’s attorney William Cole is expected to inform the court that plea negotiations were taking place and Fry will then waive a preliminary hearing.
At that juncture, the justice court will bind the case over to district court so Fry’s plea may be formally entered and a sentencing date can be set.
Because she has no previous criminal history, Doyle said Tuesday his office was going to recommend probation for Fry in conjunction with her making complete restitution.
Doyle said the case, which has taken nearly six months to investigate, should wrap up sometime after the first of next year.
“The matter was reported to our office and the investigation ensued,” Doyle said. “The investigation required looking at virtually every criminal file that passed through Justice Court during her employment. There were hundreds of files.”
Doyle said the probe was handled by Douglas County investigators Michael Beam and Mark Munoz, with the assistance of internal and external auditors and a representative of the Nevada Department of Investigation.
Beam and Munoz said they went through transactions from Fry’s hire date in September 1996 until she was placed on unpaid leave this past June.
n ‘Big card trick.’ “The majority of the transactions were cash,” Beam said. “The monies were in the computer system. Basically, it was a big card trick.”
Doyle said that Fry’s attorney approached his office early in the investigation offering to make restitution. But Doyle said he waited until the total amount was determined before agreeing to the figure.
“Her position has been quite forthcoming on this case,” Doyle said Tuesday. “We deposited the $17,700 in the county treasury this afternoon.”
Defense attorney William Cole said Tuesday he preferred to withhold comment until he argues Fry’s case at her sentencing hearing.
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