Woman pleads guilty to stealing $267K from Hobart Arena

The finishing touches are being placed on the nearly $10 million renovation/expansion project at Troy’s Hobart Arena. The venue has hosted many events in its 67 years ranging from high school graduations to performances by world known acts. CONTRIBUTED
The finishing touches are being placed on the nearly $10 million renovation/expansion project at Troy’s Hobart Arena. The venue has hosted many events in its 67 years ranging from high school graduations to performances by world known acts. CONTRIBUTED

A former Troy city employee pleaded guilty Wednesday to theft in office for stealing more than $250,000 from operations at Hobart Arena.

Cheryl Terry, 60, of Troy agreed to pay $267,000 in restitution to the city during a hearing in Miami County Common Pleas Court.

She admitted to stealing money from Hobart Arena between Jan. 1, 2017, and May 1. She was the arena office manager before a suspicious fire in a trash can at an arena office in late April followed by her swift retirement in early May.

The theft was from multiple accounts involving multiple areas of arena income, said Capt. Jeff Kunkleman of the Troy Police Department. The theft was discovered due to discrepancies found in accounts and information from a local financial institution, police said.

Terry waived a grand jury’s consideration of allegations against her and pleaded guilty in Common Pleas Court. Judge Stacy Wall ordered a presentence investigation and set sentencing for Oct. 26. Terry was freed on her own recognizance, which was requested by defense lawyer Jon Paul Rion. He said Terry was cooperative with investigators.

The charge is a third-degree felony. Terry could face nine to 36 months in prison, although prison time is not mandatory for this charge. She also faces a maximum $10,000 fine, restitution and could be permanently disqualified from holding public office or a position of trust. Wall noted on Terry’s plea form that the conviction could affect her public pension.

As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors said no further charges would be pursued.

The city has been working with the Troy Police Department, city auditor and recreation department since the problem with finances was found earlier this year, said Patrick Titterington, city service and safety director. “Checks and balances are in place between the auditor and recreation department,” Titterington said Wednesday.

He referred all other questions to the Recreation Board, whose president is Martin Hobart. He had not responded for a request for comment later Wednesday.

The police report said they learned following the fire that money discrepancies were being looked into at the arena by Ken Siler, arena manger, prior to the fire and Terry’s retirement. Siler said he and the city auditor, John Frigge, were looking into the discrepancies. In police interviews, Terry admitted to setting the fire.

In addition, a police officer had contacted Siler that a local bank employee reported Terry “was making frequent cash deposits to a joint” account she and a relative had together. The deposits were reported as “tens of thousands of dollars” in cash. The money was taken from cash payments for skate rentals, concessions and leases and rentals at the arena.

Terry later told police the relative, who lives out of state, was not aware of the thefts, although she was providing money to her on a routine basis and paying some of her bills, according to the report.

In an interview with police, Terry said she had been strapped for money and was passed over for raises several times while other employees received raises while she received additional work/duties, according to the police report.