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Wayne County Clerk Steals $140,000 Gets 60 Days Jail

Melissa Turpin

The county clerk in Wayne County, Kentucky has pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $140,000 during her first two years in office.

Melissa Turpin, who was charged with stealing nearly $140,000 in two years, is to report to the jail in Wayne County Thursday to begin serving a 60-day sentence even though she won't be formally sentenced until next month.

Turpin, 36, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two charges of theft by unlawful taking and two charges of abuse of public trust, both felonies.

The plea deal calls for a 10-year sentence with most of that time being probated. Turpin is to serve 60 days in jail followed by 120 days on house arrest. Under the terms of probation, Turpin will only be allowed to leave home to attend church.

As part of the agreement Turpin most also repay $75,000 to the insurance company that had underwritten her work as an elected official. She must also repay restitution amounting to $64,986 to the county.

A grand jury charged that in her first year in office in 2007, Turpin stole $87,056 — more than her annual salary of $76,000 — and that she took $52,930 in 2008.

Turpin had been a deputy clerk in the office for several years before winning the clerk's job in 2006. The following year a grand jury charged that she had stolen at least $87,000 during her first year in office and that she took $52,930 in 2008. Turpin’s annual salary was $75,000.

Auditors said Turpin ran up a deficit in her office of $139,986 in 2007 and 2008. More than $118,000 of the shortfall happened because the office took in money but didn't deposit it in the bank, audits showed.

Auditors also said Turpin had more than $21,000 in spending that was poorly documented or not proper, including thousands in payments to her husband for work he allegedly did at her office, such as painting and cleaning.

Turpin was indicted in August but had stayed on the job until October 20. In March of this year former Wayne County employee Heather Piercy filed a civil suit against Turpin, Wayne County Fiscal Court, and members of the court individually, alleging that she was fired from her job after she reported suspicions that the clerk improperly paid her husband with taxpayer money. The suit makes reference to "several disturbing checks written from the Wayne County Court to Mr. Glenn Turpin, the husband of the defendant, Melissa Turpin."

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