Kimes emphasizes innocence during Thursday testimony

By Lindsay Kriz

July 24, 2014

POMEROY — After hearing testimony from five witnesses yesterday, including defendant Mary Kimes, all that remains is closing arguments and a verdict from the jury.

Closing arguments will begin at 9:30 a.m. Friday

Counts 1, 3, 5 and 7 of the indictment allege that between Jan. 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012, Kimes committed the crime of theft in office, which is a third-degree felony. Counts 2, 4, 6 and 8 — also third-degree felonies — allege that between the same period of time, Kimes committed the crime of theft in office. These four counts state that the property or service involved was owned by the state, some other state, a county or municipal, corporation or political subdivision.

Each count states that the amount of theft was equal to or greater than $7,500, which total up to more than $56,000. If convicted on all eight counts, Kimes could face 24-40 years in prison.

The prosecution finished up its slate of witnesses Thursday, starting with a statement from Lynn Brown, who could not make the trial in person. Lynn’s statement said she and her husband, Harold Brown, had purchased two properties in April 2012 during a sheriff’s sale and had given People’s Bank the required 10 percent cash payment on both properties, as the bank told her there had been a problem in the past with cashier’s checks.

Maj. Scott Trussell, of the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office, testified Thursday that he helped collect information and money for web checks by collecting the applicant’s name, whether their check was for the Bureau of Criminal Investigation or the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the employee’s signature. As others testified Wednesday, Trussell said Kimes was the only one with a key to the lock box.

Kevin Cooper, a BCI employee of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, conducts investigations that have to do with fraud, and served as the prosecution’s final witness. Cooper testified that he became involved with the investigation a month before the grand jury indictment of Kimes. Cooper looked at the investigation according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and processes going on in the sheriff’s office, including the carrying a concealed weapon account, web check account and the sheriff’s sales account. Cooper also testified that he looked at any documents that were made available to him, and interviewed any witnesses he could.

“Based on the investigation, it was clear that Mary Kimes had control of the money,” he said of the money placed in the lock box.

The defense called current Sheriff Keith Wood, Deputy James Stacy and Rick Smith, who teaches criminal justice in the Meigs County Local School District. All three testified that former Sheriff Robert Beegle ran his office loosely.

Smith, who no longer works at the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office, said that when he was there a lock box attached to the front door of the sheriff’s office held one key for the prisoner lock box, and had a key inside it to keep it shut, though it was always unlocked. Smith said that the prisoner lock box was different from the other lock box that held carrying a concealed weapon, web check money and applications.

Kimes later took the stand and testified that the web check money began under Sheriff Ralph Trussell, with the carrying of a concealed weapon money process taking place under Beegle. Kimes testified that unlike other testimony had claimed, Beegle also had a key to the carrying of a concealed weapon and web check lock box, as he would need access to it when Kimes was off or on vacation.

Kimes also testified that on Sept. 11, 2008, Beegle returned from a Buckeye Association meeting with new information regarding sheriff’s sales. Kimes said that the rules stated that for the 10 percent down payment toward purchased property only guaranteed money — money that wouldn’t bounce — would be accepted for sheriff’s sales. Eventually, Kimes became the sole caretaker of the 90 percent sheriff’s accounts, or the other money used to pay for sales after a 10 percent down payment was made.

As the other defense witnesses claimed on the stand, Kimes also said Beegle was unorganized, with his office cluttered with evidence bags and papers, among other items.

She also answered questions about the interview with Det. Bryan Lockhart and Sgt. Carrie Smithburger, and said she felt she was treated poorly by the pair. The interview took place during what was initially Kimes’s vacation, she said. Kimes testified that she was put on administrative leave May 31, 2012, and reinstated the next day, but decided to resign due to feelings of betrayal.

She also explained that even though she had purchased two vehicles during the time money came up missing from the sheriff’s office, the vehicles were from 1997 and 2001. She added that her husband’s money was enough to pay for the vehicles at the time, as well as her own pay during the time she was still employed at the sheriff’s office.