TROY — A longtime Hobart Arena office manager convicted of stealing more than $250,000 from the city of Troy told a Miami County judge Monday she stole because she was given more work but never received comparable compensation.
Cheryl L. Terry, 60, of Troy was sentenced to five years of community control, 60 days in the county jail and $267,000 in restitution by Judge Stacy Wall in Common Pleas Court. If she violates term of the community control, Terry could face up to two years in prison.
County Prosecutor Tony Kendell, who said Terry stole from the city at a “despicable level,” sought a prison sentence. If Terry didn’t like what she was being paid “she could have packed her bags and moved on,” Kendell said.
Terry, who pleaded guilty in September to felony theft in office, told Troy police detectives investigating that she was angered because she was given more work but always passed over for any raises beyond the cost of living granted to all employees.
“Other employees got raises without more tasks,” she told Wall during the sentencing hearing.
Police said money was deposited in a joint bank account Terry had with a relative, with the money going to support the relative and her children. Terry said the relative was not aware of the source of the money and that person was not charged.
Account irregularities were discovered at the arena earlier this year.
Terry retired unexpectedly May 4, days after a small fire that had been started in a trash can in the arena office was discovered. Terry later admitted to detectives that she started the fire.
“I made a bad decision and am truly sorry for what I did,” Terry said of the theft.
Terry will make payment toward restitution, with around $40,000 from money paid by the city on her retirement, plus $90,000 to $100,000 in her retirement, defense lawyer Jon Paul Rion said.
The arena books were audited annually but the theft not found, Rion said.
Credit: Tom Gilliam
Credit: Tom Gilliam
It is not unusual for those in public service to be asked to do more and more, the judge said.
“I would say most public servants rarely get recognized for their service,” Wall said.
The case was extremely difficult because of the amount of money involved and the fact that the community would be harmed further if Terry went to prison and didn’t pay restitution, the judge said said.
“I am very disappointed in the sentence given,” Martin Hobart, chairman of the Troy Recreation Board that oversees the area, said Monday. “This was a theft involving hundreds of thousands of dollars in city funds and taxpayer dollars. Additionally she tried to cover up her thefts by setting a fire in the Hobart Arena offices.”
Hobart said the recreation board and city staff are “very comfortable” with checks and balances put in place and appreciated efforts by police, the city auditor’s office, recreation department staff and other city officials to update procedures quickly.
Disciplinary action was not taken against any other employees, Hobart said.
“Cheryl was convicted because she alone stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the city. Cheryl is the only person who deserved to be disciplined,” he said.
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