Payment terms set for former schools official

A former Marietta Local Schools employee who spent five years quietly pilfering more than $145,000 from the district now has three years to pay back the large sum of money.

The time frame was established Monday in Washington County Common Pleas Court as Barbara Mincks, the district’s former assistant treasurer, was sentenced for the crime, a third-degree felony count of theft in office.

“We’d ask that the court specifically order restitution in the amount of $145,181.51 and that it specifically order it from the defendant’s School Employees Retirement System of Ohio funds,” said Washington County Prosecutor Jim Schneider.

The school district estimates that retirement fund holds $120,000, about $90,000 of which the school would put toward restitution after state and federal taxes are withheld.

It was not immediately clear how Mincks, 53, of 60 Warner Second St., Lower Salem, would repay the remaining one-third of the funds, which she stole by waiting several months for district-issued checks to go uncashed and then reissuing them in her name.

“I’d like to point out that the money she stole was money the school (district) had already spent in a sense,” said Mincks’ attorney Rolf Baumgartel.

Mincks participated in the scam for more than five years, with the first theft dating back to June 2007. She was discovered in October during an audit by the Ohio Auditor’s Office.

Mincks stole an average of $29,000 a year from the district. When she resigned in October to avoid termination, her annual salary was $37,000.

Though Mincks was officially titled as assistant treasurer, she spent much of her time coordinating the education management information system (EMIS), said Marietta City Schools Treasurer Matt Reed.

That position was filled on a full-time temporary basis this school year and the district is now looking for a new full-time EMIS coordinator. Mincks’ assistant treasurer duties have been absorbed by Reed and other staff in the treasurer’s office, said Reed.

Also in Mincks’ defense, Baumgartel pointed out that she did not use the stolen money to fund an extravagant lifestyle.

“She didn’t use the money to live the high life, go on vacations, buy cars,” he said.

Mincks used the funds to help family members, he said

Schneider previously indicated that Mincks used the money to help pay off her daughter’s student loans and pay for her wedding.

Mincks, who dabbed away tears during the proceeding, was also sentenced to three years of community control and will spend 120 days in the Washington County Jail. She faced up to three years in prison on the charge.

Schneider expressed concern that Mincks might use her county jail sentence as a means to further abuse taxpayer money by postponing some sort of medical procedure until she was in jail and the county would have to pay for it.

“It’s just me being cynical,” he said, explaining that he had no specific knowledge to indicate that was the case.

Baumgartel indicated that Mincks has no scheduled medical appointments and does not anticipate any medical problems.

Still, Schneider asked Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Randall Burnworth to temporarily suspend her jail sentence if medical issues did arise, so Mincks and not the county would be financially liable for them.

Burnworth warned that Mincks and others who start stealing small amounts of public money often snowball out of control and are usually found out.

“Over time, something eventually comes around and there’s someone shaking their head about the numbers, and there’s an audit, and everything comes to light,” he said.

New procedures have been adopted for Marietta City Schools to better catch scams like Mincks’, said Reed.

“I’m now going through all the canceled checks to make sure they match up with the vendor they were issued to,” he said.

In addition, the software that enabled Mincks to print “on demand” checks in her own name is now being more closely monitored, said Reed.