A rural Wapakoneta woman was sentenced to six months in jail after a plea agreement was reached regarding the misuse of funds of a youth football team.
Karen F. Bailey, 54, 16501 Blank Road, Wapakoneta, was sentenced to 180 days in jail on a negotiated plea of unauthorized use of property, a fifth-degree felony, for misusing thousands of dollars in funds from the Uniopolis Browns Midget Football League team.
Bailey originally faced a count of theft by deception, a fourth-degree felony, before her attorney Robert Gryzbowski and prosecutors with the Auglaize County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office reached the plea deal.
Bailey was also placed on five years probation, fined $2,500 and ordered to pay $9,244.25 in restitution to the Uniopolis Browns’ organization.
The sentence was ordered to be served in addition to penalties handed out in 2007 for a conviction of theft by deception, a fourth-degree felony, of nearly $43,000 to Hartford Plaza in Connecticut and Otterbein Homes, a former employer.
Before passing down his sentence, Auglaize County Common Pleas Judge Fred Pepple asked Bailey if she wanted to address the court. Shortly after she began to speak, Pepple asked the defendant “What did you do wrong.”
“I was involved with the financial aspect of the Browns and I shouldn’t have been,” Bailey said.
Pepple, visibly not pleased with the answer, asked again “With respect to the crime, what did you do?”
“I’m sorry for all the heartache I have caused,” Bailey said. “I used funds I wasn’t authorized to use.”
After he passed sentence, Pepple again addressed Bailey before adjourning court.
“You know, I was hoping you would turn to these people and say I am sorry,” Pepple said, addressing approximately 40 people, mostly former and current Uniopolis Browns supporters, attended the sentencing. “Part of your brain is causing you to weasel out of it. You know, people see stories in the paper and they say ‘your job can’t be easy.’ When it’s an ax-murderer it is easy to deal with, but these people are your friends — they have known you for a long time.”
An indictment for the crime was issued Feb. 4 after an audit of Browns’ financial records revealed at least $25,510 missing from the team’s funds. An arrest warrant was issued by the court which led to Bailey’s arrest on Feb. 8.
Bailey pleaded innocent to the charges Feb. 14 before entering the negotiated plea Aug. 8.
Before sentence was passed down, Bailey’s attorney contested the negotiated amount of $9,244.25. Bailey, as well as the current secretary of the Browns, Jim Steinke, were both called as witnesses to the stand.
Bailey claimed that $6,288.38 of the total should be taken off the total restitution for expenses that Bailey and her husband, Don Bailey had encountered. The Bailey’s provided exhibits A through E as receipts for expenses that had been paid. Included among the receipts were several for items purchased at Wal-Mart as well as photos, gasoline and a skin lotion, hydroxatone. The receipt for hydroxatone was later re-credited to the Browns’ account.
There also receipts to the Internal Revenue Service and the Dollar Tree. There receipts showing the changing of funds from account to account between the Uniopolis Browns funds and the Just Us Quartet, a local gospel group that Bailey’s husband serves as treasurer.
Bailey argued that receipts for all the expenditures and what they had went for were kept, but that the records were confiscated from their home when other Browns officials came to their home and confiscated all of the Browns’ belongings from the Bailey property.
Steinke, in his testimony and after the trial, said that the expenses the Bailey’s claimed were not consistent with the expenses the team currently experienced.
“From what she turned in, we have never experienced expenses to that degree,” Steinke said.
Steinke, speaking on behalf of the Browns, requested that Bailey receive a maximum sentence for her crimes.
Pepple found after hearing testimony that Bailey would still be responsible for the entire negotiated amount.
“There is an amount of questionable dealing,” Pepple said.
Pepple noted that even if the amount the Bailey’s claimed as spending ($6,288.38) was taken off, the total missing was still more than $19,000.
“I am ordering the restitution paid in the negotiated amount because of the preliminary plea,” Pepple said.
Pepple ordered Bailey’s sentence to begin Dec. 9 due to medical reasons. Bailey is due for a medical procedure in November. However, Pepple issued her a warning.
“I need to warn you about something,” Pepple said. “I pray that you don’t have cancer, but don’t play the cancer card with me. I’m sure you know what I went through with my own family. Don’t think in the back of your brain that you don’t have to follow through.”
Pepple said he wanted the restitution paid back to the team in a timely manner, “so that they can move on without this cloud of stuff hanging over them.”
After the sentencing hearing, Steinke said parents of former and current Uniopolis Browns players were happy overall with the judge’s decision.
“It would have been nice for her to apologize after the wrong she had done over the years,” Steinke said. “It’s all about the kids.”
Uniopolis resident Burt Sidey said that he was upset with the fact that the Baileys had records for their expenditures but did not have receipts for what they had bought.
“I hope this sends a message to other youth groups,” Sidey said. “You have to have boards and stay organized.”
Sidey said Don Bailey’s father, Art, who is deceased, would be upset with what had went on.
“This team used to have the best of everything,” Sidey said. “We always had the equipment we needed. Art would kick that boy’s arse if he knew what was going on.”