2012-02-09 / Front Page

Former Chamber Bookkeeper Gets A Year Probation

Must pay over $15,500 in restitution to Fulton County Chamber
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz
STAFF WRITER

Surrounded by family, a county native and bookkeeper for the Fulton County Chamber of Commerce stood before Judge Richard J. Walsh this week to answer allegations that she embezzled money belonging to her former employer.

Kathy Leigh (Fester) Carbaugh, currently of 5720 Squirrel Road, Fort Loudon, appeared in the Fulton County Court of Common Pleas on February 7 for mandatory arraignment. Faced with one count each of theft by unlawful taking or disposition, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received, theft by deception, unlawful use of a computer and two counts of forgery, Carbaugh was arrested earlier this year following a multiyear investigation by Pennsylvania State Police Trooper M.B. Gordon.

Appearing without legal counsel, Carbaugh, 38, waived her right to arraignment and was presented to the court for admission into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. As was noted by the judge, a defendant may only be entered into ARD at the request of the district attorney, in this case Fulton County District Attorney Travis Kendall.

In the event Carbaugh is able to successfully complete the probationary requirements of ARD over the next 12 months, the criminal charges will be dismissed from her record, Judge Walsh said.

The district attorney noted between January 2006 and July 2008, Carbaugh stole more than $15,000 from her then employer through several means. “The money was used or funneled from the chamber for her own use,” said Kendall.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case, allegations against Carbaugh emerged in late May 2008, when a creditor, The Fulton County News, contacted chamber officer Julie Dovey regarding an outstanding bill for advertising. A comparison was made of the Quicken accounting program used by Carbaugh against the chamber’s bank statements maintained by F&M Trust. Unlike what Dovey and fellow chamber officers had been led to believe through the Quicken ledger, the check had not been issued and the debt was still outstanding, the affidavit said.

“It was obvious that the Quicken account was used to satisfy the chamber members and show a healthy positive balance while the accused (Carbaugh) was not making cash deposits and failing to deposit money as directed,” Trooper Gordon maintained in the affidavit.

Kendall told the court on Tuesday since her duties at the chamber ceased, Carbaugh had primarily been employed in the capacity of a school teacher. He said she has not only done well in that capacity but is also well-liked.

Kendall added he has had extensive conversations with past and prior chamber directors who were in unanimous support of his ARD recommendation. However, restitution totalling just over $15,500 would need to be paid back within a 30-day time frame as well as an additional $2,500 to forensic accountant Susan Stott. Kendall announced Carbaugh wished to immediately pay back the money.

“It’s an unusual ARD case given the seriousness of the offenses,” concluded Kendall. “We’re satisfied with the 12-month sentence of probation.”

“You’ll want to thank Mr. Kendall if you haven’t already,” the judge told a tear-streaked Carbaugh at the conclusion of the proceeding.

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