Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

December 18, 2013

Stamper, Black appear on theft charges

By Leeann Akers - Editor
Journal-Times

Dec. 18, 2013 — Two Carter Countians accused of taking money from their public employers appeared in Circuit Court Monday for pretrial conferences. 

Christopher Stamper, 40, of Grayson, will go on trial on June 24 on charges he misappropriated nearly $30,000 from the Rattlesnake Ridge Water District.

Stamper's attorney, Will Willhoit, asked to be place on second case status for a Feb. 11 trial date, which means if the trial scheduled for that time does not go forward, the Stamper trial would begin. 

Stamper will appear in court on Feb. 3 for another pretrial conference. 

He was indicted by a Carter County grand jury on Sept. 27 on one count of theft by unlawful taking over $10,000, a Class C felony punishable by a prison term of 5-10 years.

Stamper was the manager at the water district, where he worked for 18 years, but was discharged June 14 for allegedly taking 29 checks totaling $29,239.93 from the water district, according to the indictment.

Melissa Black, 43, also appeared on Monday in a case involving the theft of more than $75,000 from the Northeast Kentucky Community Action Agency.

She is represented by public defender Rhese McKenzie, who told the court that he expected the case to be resolved. 

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Derrick Willis said that he was under the impression that restitution could be requested and paid to the insurance company if Black accepts a plea agreement. 

Black was indicted on June 28 on six counts of second degree forgery and six counts of theft by unlawful taking over $500. All 12 counts are Class D felonies. If convicted, Black faces one to five years in prison for each charge. 

In May, Kentucky State Police initiated an investigation into multiple counts of theft and forgery reported by Northeast.

The agency provides direct social services to Kentuckians with low and moderate incomes, including education grants.

Black was implicated on 55 counts of theft by unlawful taking over $500 and 54 counts of second degree forgery, which allegedly netted her more than $75,000 between Feb. 10, 2011 and Jan. 24, 2013. 

A civil lawsuit has been filed against Black by Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company to recover the missing funds repaid to Northeast.

According to the complaint, Black caused a "substantial loss" for $79,250.52 to her employer. 

Northeast submitted a theft claim to the insurance company which was paid.  The insurance company seeks to recover $80,250.52 plus interest. 

No court dates in the civil case have been scheduled. 

Black will appear Jan. 21 for a final pretrial conference on the criminal charges. 

Leeann Akers can be reached at lakers@journal-times.com or by phone at 474-5101.