Feb. 12, 2014 —
A former Northeast Kentucky Community Action Agency employee has pleaded guilty to forgery and theft charges.
Melissa Black, 43, pleaded guilty to six counts of forgery and six counts of theft by unlawful taking over $500 on Friday in Carter Circuit Court. All 12 counts are Class D felonies.
The agreement for her plea is an eight-year sentence. However, Black will serve 180 days in prison and the remainder of the sentence will be probated.
Northeast approved the plea agreement. Black will be required to pay restitution to her former employer for its $1,000 deductible.
The total amount of stolen funds, minus the deductible, were returned to Northeast through the company's insurance agency.
A civil suit was filed against Black by Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company.
Judge Rebecca Phillips ruled Feb. 3 that Black must pay the insurance agency restitution in the amount of $80,250.53 with 12 percent interest per annum.
Black is scheduled for formal sentencing on March 3.
In May, Kentucky State Police initiated an investigation into multiple counts of theft and forgery reported by the NKCAA.
The agency provides direct social services to Kentuckians with low and moderate incomes, including education grants.
It reported that an ex-employee (Black) had been stealing money from the agency and forging checks which had been issued to their clients.
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 in illegitimate funds.
The case was presented to the Carter County grand jury on Friday, June 28, and an indictment was returned for 12 of the counts.
Black was arrested and lodged into the Carter County Detention Center on July 19 and released on a $25,000 surety bond.
Individual checks forged and money taken was at values ranging from $320 to $2,993.
Leeann Akers can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 474-5101.