Church secretary charged in thefts

By Peter H. Milliken


A former secretary for a prominent downtown church faces felony charges of grand theft and misuse of a debit card over her nearly two years of employment.

The Mahoning County grand jury on Thursday indicted Lori Ramsey, 37, of Vienna Avenue, Niles, who reportedly committed the offenses between Aug. 1, 2009, and May 9, 2011, when she was fired from Trinity United Methodist Church, 30 W. Front St.

Each charge carries a possible six- to 18-month prison term.

The Rev. Steve Sparling, pastor, said Friday he expects the church’s insurance will cover almost all of the estimated $46,000 loss.

The Rev. Mr. Sparling told police May 19 that another church employee discovered a large amount of unpaid bills in Ramsey’s former office and that there were about $21,000 in unauthorized checks made out to her.

Church employees also said they discovered that she took the church bank debit card and withdrew about $8,000, that cash from Sunday service plate collections was never deposited, and that Ramsey charged an unspecified amount of unauthorized purchases to a credit card.

In an apparent effort to cover up the theft, Ramsey transferred via phone $26,000 from a money-market account into the church’s main account, church officials told police.

The pastor was noncommittal as to whether he thought Ramsey should serve prison time or simply be sentenced to probation and restitution if she’s convicted. However, if she’s guilty, he said he’d like to see her accept responsibility by pleading guilty.

“I always pray for justice tempered with God’s mercy,” Mr. Sparling said. “There are consequences for our actions, and we have to own those.”

If she’s convicted, Mr. Sparling said he wants her punishment “to be enough to arrest the behavior so that there can be repentance, forgiveness and change. Sometimes to change, pain is a great motivator.”

Ramsey could not be reached to comment.

Others indicted were:

Craig Douglas, 20, of West Evergreen Avenue; Andre Barnett, 19, of East Judson Avenue; Daryl Young, 38, of East Avondale Avenue; Justin Kennedy, 23, of Weston Avenue; and Carroll Braxton, 20, of Howard Street, cocaine possession with a forfeiture specification.

George A. Garland Jr., 35, of Forest Hill Drive, Austintown, cocaine possession.

Paula Summerville, 41, of McClure Avenue, heroin possession.

James McVay, 25, of Laughlin Road, Lisbon, or North Ellsworth Road, Salem, theft.

Krystyne Shorter, 38, of Mount Vernon Avenue, felonious assault and domestic violence.

Gregory Dixon, 47, of Brentwood Avenue, domestic violence.

Holly L. Leonard, 21, of North Lima Road, Poland, misdemeanor theft.

Daniel Williams Jr., 52, of East Ravenwood Avenue, breaking and entering and possessing criminal tools.

David Triplett, 19, of East Indianola Avenue, burglary.

Malcomjumall Dates of Potomac Avenue and Aaron Williams of Clarencedale Avenue, both 18, six counts of aggravated robbery with firearm specifications.

Raymond Guzman, 38, of Baylor Avenue, passing bad checks.

Melissa Infante, 21, of Boardman-Canfield Road, heroin trafficking, cocaine possession and permitting drug abuse with forfeiture specifications and possessing criminal tools.

Edgardo Esteras, 19, of Boardman-Canfield Road, heroin trafficking and cocaine possession with forfeiture specifications and possessing criminal tools.

Clarence E. Shaffer, 35, of Pasadena Avenue, burglary.

Toriano S. Haines, 28, of St. Louis Ave., assault.

John W. Tomor, 37, of North Benton West Road, North Benton, theft.

Ricky W. Paige, 25, of Mistletoe Avenue, burglary.

Renada Torres, 30, of East Philadelphia Avenue, illegal gun possession.

Jody F. Hunter, 22, of East Boston Avenue, improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle.

Corey Dodd-Baumgartner, 22, of Crandall Avenue, cocaine possession and trafficking.

Jazzmine Campbell, 21, of West Judson Avenue, heroin possession.

Deangelo Young, 36, of East Chalmers Avenue, cocaine possession and trafficking and heroin possession with forfeiture specifications and illegal gun possession.

Roosevelt Kelly, 56, of Roxbury Avenue, drug possession.

Tyrell J. Martin, 31, of Moyer Avenue, two counts of illegal use of food stamps or WIC program benefits.

Craig Hunting, 42, of Kings Lane, Canfield, theft.

Samantha Maxwell, 25, and Robert A. McCaskill Jr., age unknown, both of South Duck Creek Road, North Jackson, theft.

Randolph Moore, 18, of Hilton Avenue, 14 counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.

Michael Collins, also known as Horace Jones, 49, of Burlington Street, two counts of aggravated arson.

Christian Little, 24, of Market Street, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.

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