Former clerk receives prison term for court theft
The clerk's actions tarnish all government workers, an assistant prosecutor said.
By ED RUNYAN
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- A former Warren Municipal Court deputy clerk was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing about 48,000 from the court but could be released after serving as little as 60 days.
Auditing of the court is not complete, so officials still don't know the total of Judith M. DeJacimo's thefts, said Chris Becker, assistant county prosecutor. The 48,000 was from a 31-month period ending in 2005.
The prosecutor's office has agreed not to oppose her release from jail after serving 60 days, Becker said.
Judge John M. Stuard of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court gave DeJacimo, 50, of Glen Drive, the maximum sentence on the single theft-in-office charge, which could have produced a sentence of as little as probation.
But Judge Stuard said the thefts produced a "profound embarrassment" to the court's employees.
"I look at the court down there, and I understand that they have been damaged because something of this nature has gone on as long as it has even though there was auditing," Judge Stuard said. "It should not have occurred, particularly from someone of your background."
The judge said he received a lot of mail regarding DeJacimo, who worked for the court 13 years, stating that DeJacimo is a good person and telling about her and her family's history.
DeJacimo's attorney, Michael Rossi of Warren, said he estimates that DeJacimo took around 90,000 and explained that his client was now paying 30,000 in restitution and would be forfeiting around 28,000 in public employee retirement and disability benefits. He said an insurance policy would repay the court around 25,000, and DeJacimo would pay additional restitution amounts as they become known.
What lawyer said
In asking Judge Stuard for something other than prison, Rossi noted that the Northeast Ohio Community Alternative Program in Warren -- a community based correctional facility -- had accepted her. He added that it is not true that DeJacimo had taken court money, saying the only victims of the crime were "judgment creditors who lost a few hundred dollars each."
According to the indictment against her, DeJacimo took cash paid to the court for filing fees, costs and other obligations, such as shorting the accounts of money paid by the court to recipients of garnishments.
Rossi said DeJacimo will be barred from serving in public office, had lost her marriage and her health. "I don't know how much more is necessary," he said.
DeJacimo tearfully apologized to the court and her family in a short statement. At the end of the hearing, she was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs, surrounded by family members.
Judge Stuard said he will evaluate whether to grant early release to DeJacimo at the appropriate time, but said he expects her to pay not only the amounts she stole but also the cost of the audit conducted by the Ohio auditor's office. Prosecutors have said last summer that the cost had already exceeded 200,000.
In his presentation to the judge, Becker objected to Rossi's referring to the thefts as "conversion" and objected to Rossi's interpretation of the lack of victims.
The audit conducted because of DeJacimo also detected thefts by clerk Sandra McCready of Warren, who was fired by the court and sentenced to five years' probation by Judge Stuard on July 6. McCready took 50.
Prosecutors said McCready admitted she was using money out of the till, borrowing it and paying it back at various times.