Former Jackson County Treasurer, Beth N. Sallee was back in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky, Southern Division at London, KY on Tuesday, October 01st, 2019 for a sentencing hearing before Judge Claria Horn Boom. Sallee received a sentence of 45 months in prison, an order to pay restitution of $161,808.23, and a three (3) year term of supervised release.
Sallee pleaded guilty in Federal Court on Monday, February 04th, 2019 to devising a scheme to defraud the Jackson County Fiscal Court of over $160,000 and to misusing the identity of a Jackson County employee to facilitate her theft (Case: 6:18-cr-00027-CHB-HAI). Sallee, 38, of McKee, Kentucky, pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft and to one count of wire fraud. These charges were part of a 10-count indictment filed on May 24th, 2018 that included four counts of wire fraud, four counts of theft from a program receiving federal funds, and two counts of aggravated identity theft.
In a sentencing memorandum submitted to the court by the prosecutors on June 04th, 2019 they stated that, “Defendant Beth Sallee exploited her position of public trust to steal $161,808.23 from Jackson County, Kentucky. Far from committing a one-off mistake, the Defendant crafted a calculated, sustained, and largely successful scheme to deceive the very people she was obligated to serve. She carefully concealed her theft for over four years—and with each of the over one hundred fraudulent checks she forged and deposited, she chose again to line her pockets at the expense of her community. The Defendant’s crimes have jeopardized Jackson County’s financial integrity and imperiled the public’s trust in its government. To reflect the seriousness of the Defendant’s crime and to deter other elected officials from committing similar violations of the public trust, the Government respectfully recommends that she receive a 27-to-33-month sentence of imprisonment for Count One (Wire Fraud) in addition to the statutory term of imprisonment required for Count Nine (Aggravated Identity Theft).” (The statutory term of imprisonment for “Aggravated Identity Theft” is 24 months, to be imposed consecutively to any other counts.) The prosecutions’ sentencing memorandum states that, “This recommended sentence falls within the Guideline range to which the parties stipulated in their Plea Agreement and the range calculated by Probation in its Presentence Report.” The federal prosecutors also asked for restitution in the amount of $161,808.23 and a three-year term of supervised release. In summary, the United States had respectfully requested that the Court sentence Sallee to a 27-to-33 month term of imprisonment for Count One (Wire Fraud) consecutive to a 24-month term of imprisonment for Count Nine (Aggravated Identity Theft), followed by a three-year term of supervised release, and restitution in the amount of $161,808.23, as is mandatory by statute and stipulated by the parties.
On June 07th, 2019 Sallee, by counsel, made a motion to the Court to continue her sentencing, (initially scheduled for June 18, 2019), for thirty (30) days and to extend the deadline for her sentencing briefing accordingly. The motion stated, “As grounds for this motion, counsel states that the additional time is required to compile and adequately present to the Court information regarding the Defendant’s mental health during the time frame of her criminal conduct as well as certain extraordinary events which impacted the Defendant and her mental health during that period. Specifically, the Defendant wishes to present evidence regarding her highly publicized wrongful arrest by the former Jackson County Sheriff, the events leading up to that arrest, and the impact of these events on the Defendant. Counsel was recently provided with a large box of material, including the case file of the attorney who represented the Defendant in a civil action arising from the wrongful arrest, which document these events and their effects. Counsel needs the additional time requested to review, organize, and summarize these materials for presentation at the Defendant’s sentencing. The Defendant submits that these circumstances will justify a variance below the recommended sentencing guidelines.”
The Department of Justice issued a press release immediately following the
sentencing hearing which read:
“The former treasurer of Jackson County, Kentucky, was sentenced today to 45 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $161,808.23 in restitution for devising a multi-year scheme to defraud the Jackson County Fiscal Court of over $160,000 and for misusing the identity of a Jackson County employee to facilitate her theft.
Beth N. Sallee, 39, of McKee, Kentucky, was sentenced in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky by U.S. District Judge Claria Horn Boom. Sallee pleaded guilty on Feb. 4, 2019, to one count of wire fraud and to one count of aggravated identity theft. As part of her plea, Sallee admitted that beginning in 2013, she misused her position to write a number of checks, totaling approximately $161,808.23, payable to herself without the approval of the Jackson County Fiscal Court. Sallee deposited these checks into her own personal checking account or for cash. The unauthorized checks drew on various Jackson County Fiscal Court accounts, including the Department of Emergency Services grant, payroll, and general fund accounts.
According to the plea agreement, in order to enable her scheme, Sallee forged the signature of other Jackson County employees on unauthorized checks without their knowledge or permission. She later attempted to conceal her scheme by removing pages of Jackson County financial documents, obscuring page numbers with white-out, and requesting the removal of check images from bank statements that were to be given to an auditor.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, United States Attorney Robert M. Duncan, Jr., for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and Special Agent in Charge James Robert Brown, Jr. of the FBI’s Louisville, Kentucky Field Division and Richard W. Sanders, Commissioner of the Kentucky State Police, made the announcement.
“This case presents another example of a selfish and corrupt official, who stole taxpayer money and spent it on herself,” said United States Attorney Duncan. “Disgraceful conduct like this erodes the public’s faith in government institutions and causes lasting damage. Combatting these betrayals of trust is critical, both to holding people accountable and to repairing the public’s faith. Prosecuting public corruption will remain a fundamental priority for our Office.”
The investigation was conducted by the FBI and the Kentucky State Police. Trial Attorney Jessica C. Harvey of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew T. Boone of the Eastern District of Kentucky prosecuted the case.”
The sentence of a total of 45 months in prison represented a term of 24 months for Count Nine (Aggravated Identity Theft) and a term of 21 months for Count 1 (Wire Fraud). These terms are to be served consecutively.”
This sentence is a significant step toward Jackson County (as well as Sallee) getting resolution and closure to a period of turmoil. Jackson County Judge Executive Shane Gabbard responded to the news saying, “This has been a long drawn out process. You never want to face a situation in a public office in which corruption comes up but if you do it’s important to address it accordingly and let Justice do the rest. My hope and prayers are that this will never come up as an issue in Jackson County again. The fiscal court now has procedures in place to prevent it and to keep everyone honest.”