INEZ , Ky. — Two former employees of the Martin County Clerk’s office have accepted plea deals from the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.
The pleas were announced last Thursday in Martin County Circuit Court and sentencing is scheduled on Thursday, September 5 before Circuit Judge John David Preston.
Former deputy clerk Tonya Mills, 47, and former office supervisor Tammy Hairston, 42, were each indicted a year ago for abuse of a public trust (over $10,000), a Class C felony with a penalty of 5 to 10 years in prison and a fine of not more than $10,000.
The two women were allowed to plead to amended charges to a Class D felony with a prison sentence of 5 years. In addition, neither are allowed to hold public office due to the abuse of a public trust charge.
Each will be eligible for parole after serving nine months. In addition, restitution must be made by the county clerk’s office into the public accounts.
Mills is accused of taking $16,576 by failing to make required deposits of public money and retaining it for her own personal use. This occurred between Jan. 9, 2012 and July 14, 2012, according to court records.
Hairston is accused of writing checks to two individuals. Three were allegedly written to Kathy Preece in the amounts of $350 (Oct. 15, 2011), $420 (Oct. 28) and $320 (Nov. 11, 2011) and Tim Smith in amount of $175 (Oct. 28, 2011), all with the intent to defraud.
After a state audit, the thefts were discovered. That audit was conducted last summer at the office of County Clerk Carol Sue Mills.
In mid-August 2012 shortly after the money was discovered missing, Mills held a press conference to address the issue. Sobbing quietly and choking back tears, she confirmed that money was missing and that two employees had been fired.
Pressed about the identities of the two employees, she confirmed that the two employees were her own daughters.
Carol Sue Mills was not accused of any wrongdoing, although her office will be required to make restitution.
Kentucky State Police Detective Jason Dials was the lead investigator in the case.
(The Mountain Citizen in Inez, Ky. provided information for this article)