ELYRIA — A former employee of the Lorain County Emergency Management Agency pleaded guilty to charges of theft in office.
Alice Webber, 55, of Amherst, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of theft in office and felony counts of theft and forgery Wednesday, according to court documents.
Webber had served as emergency operations manager for the Emergency Management Agency until her resignation last spring. Webber wrote checks to herself from an account the EMA controlled and cashed them.
Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will had said Webber stole approximately $60,000.
County Administrator Jim Cordes had said the funds Webber stole were not county funds.
Last year Tom Kelley, Lorain County Emergency Management Agency and Homeland Security director, said the funds were from the county’s Local Emergency Planning Committee, which is responsible for the handling of hazardous chemicals in the county along with the operations of the county’s Technical Response Team.
The committee and group are funded by each jurisdiction — cities, villages and townships — within the county with the exception of the city of Lorain, according to Kelley. Each jurisdiction’s share of the funding is based on its population.
Kelley had said the funds were handled by the EMA, which pays for all the equipment, calibrations and upkeep for the response team.
Kelley said he received a call from the bank telling him that it had noticed “something odd with the amount of money in those checks.” He said the checks were supposedly being cashed at a gas station.
Cordes said the checks were cashed with Kelley’s signature on them, but Kelley said he hadn’t signed them.
After Kelley received the call, he immediately reported it to Cordes, who then contacted the Sheriff’s Department. An investigation ensued.
Kelley said Webber resigned from her position the following week.
According to the indictment, Webber wrote the checks from January 2016 until May 31. Cordes said there were several such checks written.
The counts of theft in office on the indictment also include stipulations of withholding of retirement benefits for restitution.
Webber is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Christopher Rothgery on April 10.