A Leesburg woman was convicted of a fourth-degree felony grand theft charge in the Fayette County Common Pleas Court on Monday morning.
Jamie L. Cook, 32, of 304 Eastern Ave., Apartment B, in Leesburg, was indicted on June 12 on two counts of grand theft. The indictment states that between the dates of April 13, 2011 and April 17, 2015, Cook stole $26,457 from Dr. Adil Yamour, who operates an office at 4 Commercial Ave. in Washington C.H.
On Monday, Cook pleaded “no contest” to one of the counts and the other count was dismissed by the Fayette County Prosecutor’s Office. Common Pleas Court Judge Steven Beathard accepted the “no contest” plea and entered a finding of “guilty” for count one.
According to Washington C.H. Police reports, the investigation by Yamour’s staff began in 2011. Cook, the former office manager at Yamour’s office, was accused of writing unauthorized checks to herself and using the business debit card to pay for personal bills, as well as pocketing patient cash co-pays for several years.
Cook came to the police department on May 19 and wrote out a personal statement. According to her statement, Yamour “willingly funded her after learning of her personal debt when Cook came to Yamour for help,” reports said.
According to witness statements, Cook allegedly used an old signature stamp to sign the checks to herself. After Cook was fired on April 17, Yamour and his staff went through Quicken to make sure certain bills were paid and noticed that Cook had written herself a payroll advance on March 9. This led to the finding of other checks that Cook had written herself.
Yamour’s written statement states that he had no knowledge of Cook’s actions and that Cook had no authorization to act outside the boundaries of her position, such as charging off patient debt or making cash deposits.
A no contest plea means that the defendant is admitting the truth of the facts alleged in the indictment, while not admitting guilt. The benefit of a no contest plea, according to the Ohio State Bar Association public resources website, allows a defendant to avoid trial if the defense has become hopeless, but prevents the plea from being used against the defendant in any later civil or criminal proceeding. The plea also allows the opportunity to appeal rulings by the court, such as rulings allowing certain evidence to be used by the state.
The state dismissed count two of the indictment and Cook faces sentencing on count one on Dec. 28. For a felony of the fourth degree, the maximum aggregate sentence that may be imposed is between six to 18 months in prison and a maximum aggregate fine of $5,000. Cook could also face up to three years of post-release control.
Reach Kellee Bonnell at (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter @newskelleebee.