Former bookkeeper who stole $84,421 from his employer will be jailed one month


By PETER H, MILLIKEN

milliken@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

A 52-year-old Poland man who admitted stealing $84,421 from his employer is now serving one year’s probation, but he’s beginning it with 30 days in jail, followed by 90 days of electronically monitored house arrest.

Thomas E. Morris, of Pacifica Drive, who will enter Mahoning County jail at 9 a.m. today, also will have to make full restitution. Judge James C. Evans said Morris will have work-release privileges while he’s on EMHA, but not during his jail stay.

The Mahoning County Common Pleas Court judge imposed the sentence Friday on Morris, who pleaded guilty to stealing the money from Tri T&J Ltd. real estate in Poland while he was the bookkeeper.

Jennifer McLaughlin, an assistant county prosecutor, said Morris repeatedly wrote unauthorized checks to himself, to his wife and to cash, and used the stolen company money to pay for his own landscaping, laundry and appliances.

McLaughlin said the company was alerted to the financial irregularities in December 2011, when the company’s name appeared on a Vindicator list of tax delinquents.

“I see a cold, conniving thief,” the judge said of Morris, who had earlier pleaded guilty as charged to a fourth-degree felony theft charge.

The judge ordered Morris to make $62,670 in restitution to Tri T&J and $16,751 in restitution to State Farm Insurance to cover what State Farm paid Tri T&J for an insurance claim. Morris already has made $5,000 in restitution to Tri T&J.

“It’s been a year from hell because of your greed,” Todd Bury, a partner in Tri T&J, told Morris during a victim impact statement. Bury added that the theft forced the partners “to put more money into Tri T&J just to keep it afloat.”

Saying Morris stole from the company in more than 113 installments over two years, Bury added: “We are victims of a con man. ... We would like our money back.” The company fired Morris a year ago.

“I take responsibility for my actions. I made some very bad decisions during a very bad time in my life,” Morris said, apologizing for his actions and adding that he wants to work and make restitution.

Morris’ lawyer, Robert J. Rohrbaugh II, said Morris stole the money to maintain the standard of living for himself and his wife after his wife had to leave her $100,000-a-year job and go on Social Security disability due to her illness. “My client has genuine remorse,” Rohrbaugh said. Morris has no prior criminal record.

In another unrelated financial crime, Virginia A. Duncan, 50, whose listed addresses were on Lockwood Boulevard and Parkland Avenue, both in Boardman, pleaded guilty Friday before Judge Maureen A. Sweeney to two counts of passing bad checks totaling $74,649.

In that case, Kevin Trapp, an assistant county prosecutor, is recommending probation and restitution. Duncan will be sentenced at a later date.

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