Kimes Relates Her Experience Working at Sheriff’s Office as Closing Arguments Set for Friday Morning

stars-storyPOMEROY – Accounts, questionable procedures, keys, and a messy sheriff’s office were all discussed during Thursday’s part of the trail against Mary Kimes.

Kimes is on trial in Meigs County Common Pleas Court and is charged with eight counts of theft in office which are all felonies of the third degree. She had been the secretary under two Meigs County Sheriffs’.

She took the stand Thursday in her own defense describing an office that had multiple accounts to keep track of at various banking institutions. She also said there were numerous receipt books as well. Defense attorney, Herman Carson, meticulously went over the various accounts for things such as web checks or background checks, concealed carry permits, Sheriff sales, and others. Kimes answered that with several of the accounts she only kept the receipts for and did not handle the money for those accounts. She said money was handed over to then Meigs County Sheriff Robert Beegle.

In between of numerous side bar conversations between Judge Michael Ward and counsel on both sides, Kimes detailed an office that had transitioned from Sheriff Ralph Trussell to Sheriff Beegle but sometime during Beegle’s tenure, he changed procedures with several of the accounts. She stated that when Beegle first came into office, she showed him everything she had learned. Once he learned, things were changed according to Kimes as Beegle directly handled some of the accounts. She stated that he was the only one in control of several of the accounts.

Justice gavel
The trial of Mary Kimes winds down Friday with closing arguments and final instructions for the jury before the deliberate.

Carson went back and forth going over the procedures and details of exactly what Kimes’ role with the various accounts had been and the procedure of handling cash related to the accounts. Kimes stated that after Beegle had returned from a Buckeye Sheriff’s conference, he informed her that some of their procedures needed to be changed related to some of the accounts based on what he had heard at the conference. This particularly related to the process for sheriff foreclosures. Kimes said Beegle changed the policy that the 10 percent of money put down for a purchase be “guaranteed money” or in other words, cash only as obtaining a cashier’s check at a sheriff’s foreclosure sale would be basically impossible. She said the 10 percent or the cash down amount was not handled by her, but by Beegle. She said she handled the 90 percent or the remaining amount owed by buyers at a sheriff’s sale. She said the 90 percent part generally came in the form of bank checks or direct deposit into a specific account for that purpose. Kimes said Beegle held control of a separate account that was supposed to hold the 10 percent, but she never saw any documentation of there actually being a physical account for the 10 percent money.

“He is my boss. He told me what to do,” Kimes said, “He went to the meeting. I didn’t go to the meeting.”

She said she handed the 10 percent cash to Beegle. Kimes said there had been a receipt book she kept for that, but the receipt book has since been missing from the office. She said she left it in her office the last day she worked. It was also noted that her office along with many other parts of the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office were not secured at that time. She said there was a box containing all the various keys in a location anyone in the office would have access to. Kimes detailed exactly where the books had been kept in her office stating they had been there the last she worked there.

Kimes said at one point the computer used for the web checks needed to be replaced. The fees collected in relation to those checks was to have been deposited and should have been in the account. When she obtained a purchase order to get the computer for the officers that needed it, the county auditor informed her there was only about $3,000 in the account. Kimes said she thought that was strange, but asked about another account that could be used and that account had the original $3,000 that it had started with. The computer equipment necessary was $10,000 and having the shortfall along with the lack of what she thought should be in the accounts, Kimes informed Beegle. Beegle said it would be taken care of and paid the rest out of another account without further discussion according to Kimes.

“There was a lot of money going in those accounts. There should have been more,” she said.

She also detailed the procedures of handling the concealed carry monies. Kimes told the jury that there would be times when the two deputies that handled it would bring her a large amount of money in a bag and at one point the auditor’s “dinged” that on their annual report against the officer. She said that in the time she worked at the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office she did not have even one finding from the auditor’s against her.

Kimes said Beegle kept a messy office. She said that there were piles of evidence bags, paperwork and the like piled on a couch in the office. What she described sounded more like an episode of “Hoarders” saying there was only a path from the door to the desk and there was only enough cleared for one chair amid the piles for a guest to sit. She said Beegle routinely threw items on his desk including money.

Stamps used to mark various paperwork did not match on certain documents as well. She stated the one stamp particularly questioned to be attributed her by the prosecution was in fact Beegle’s.

Kimes told the jury that she cooked lunch and dinner for inmates at the jail once Beegle reopened the jail. She said inmates would be packed in the facility which is only supposed to hold five, but would routinely have 10 inmates. She said she did shopping for the Sheriff’s Office which included groceries and other items such as over the counter medication like Tylenol. She said the bulk items were purchased from Sam’s Club but for in between trips or for food, a local account was used at Powell’s Foodfair. She said Sheriff Beegle and his wife also did shopping for the inmates and the Sheriff’s Office.

Kimes also said that initially she had been questioned about removing some items such as toilet paper, paper plates and food items. Det. Bryan Lockhart had asked Kimes about the items at the Sheriff’s Office. The items including food had been accounted for and Kimes thought the matter had been dropped until Lockhart and another investigator appeared on her doorstep one morning.

Current Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood along with other law enforcement officers testified the day before and also noted that Beegle had been disorganized in running the office. Others contradicted Kimes’ testimony that Beegle also had a key to the money box in question, but they said she was the only one that did.

Kimes said she had planned two weeks of vacation prior to initial questioning by Lockhart. It was during her time off she received notice of her being placed on administrative leave. She said she returned from vacation to find she could return to work when her vacation was up. She decided to resign instead. She noted that she never received her personal items back that had been in her office as well.

“I was going to stay and wait for Wood to come into office, but after I was put on administrative leave, I had enough,” she said.

Kimes also said that the new vehicles prosecution had previously referred to were not in fact new at all. She said she owns a 2001 Caravan and her husband has 1997 vehicle.

When asked by Carson to describe the way she had been treated by Beegle while working for him she responded, “horrible” and that he had been “demeaning” toward her.

Counsel will present their closing arguments to the jury first thing Friday morning. The jury will receive their instructions from Judge Ward before being dismissed for deliberations.

David G. Baer is working with Carson on Kimes’ defense. Melissa Schiffel from the State of Ohio Attorney General’s Office is serving as special prosecutor.

Kimes is charged with eight counts of theft in office of amounts alleged to be over $50,000. If convicted, she could face up to 40 years in prison.