Release from the W.Va. State Auditor’s Office:
CHARLESTON, W.Va.—Today in Harrisville, Circuit Judge Timothy L. Sweeney accepted a felony plea from former WVU Extension Agent Stephanie M. Deem.
Deem, 39, of Harrisville, entered her guilty plea to an Information
charging her with fraudulent schemes related to her work with the Ritchie County Commission, the Ritchie County Board of Education, and the 4-H.
Deem faces a sentencing hearing on September 22, 2020 where she could be
confined in the state penitentiary for up to 1-10 years and fined up to $2,500. In addition, she will be ordered to make restitution for her criminal conduct, being not less than $6,159.46 according to the plea agreement.
The State Auditor’s Office was appointed as the Special Prosecutor by the Circuit Court in January of this year. The Auditor’s investigation showed Deem sought and obtained travel and expense reimbursement on 57 occasions from both the Ritchie County Commission, Ritchie County Board of Education and/or WVU Extension Service.
Additionally, Deem misappropriated funds from an Ox Roast fundraiser and 4-H property rentals.
The cases were based on an investigation by the State Auditor’s Public Integrity & Fraud Unit in cooperation with the Ritchie County Sheriff’s Office. State Auditor, John B. McCuskey, is pleased to see forward progress on cases brought by his office.
“This is a great example of the swift justice our office is able to bring. From beginning to end, this case was initiated, investigated, and completed in less than 6 months,” McCuskey said. “This all culminated despite limitation of court proceedings during COVID. The public can be assured we will work tirelessly to hold government officials responsible when they take from the public trust.”
The State Auditor’s Office monitors all state and local government purchasing card transactions to identify internal fraud. The office is staffed with 14 fraud examiners, fraud monitors, investigators, and lawyers. Attorneys for the office currently serve as special prosecutors in 6 counties around the State prosecuting criminal conduct.
“If anyone knows of any fraud against the state, county, or local government, please call (833) WV-FRAUD or file an anonymous online report at www.wvsao.gov.” McCuskey added.
Ritchie County Case Number: 20-F-17
— An information is only a charging document and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.