SALT LAKE CITY — Tabiona Mayor Ron Giles figures it will take 40 years to make up the money his former town clerk embezzled.
"It hurt the town terrible," he told a federal judge Wednesday. "We've had to scrape and save and do everything we possibly could to make our payments."
Angela Betty Curry wrote $184,044 worth of checks to herself over a four-year period, nearly depleting the tiny eastern Utah town's rainy day fund. "When I caught up to her, we had $26,000 left in the bank," Giles said.
U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups sentenced Curry to 27 months in prison followed by 36 months probation. He ordered her to start paying back the money at a minimum of $25 a month while incarcerated and $50 a month thereafter. At that rate, it would take more than 300 years to make full restitution.
"I know I've let a lot of people down, including myself and my children," said the sobbing 36-year-old married mother of four. "If I could take it back, I would. But I can't."
This is the second time a Tabiona clerk has been caught stealing from town's coffers since 2003. One of Curry's predecessor's funneled more than $100,000 to herself over four years.
Tabiona residents said in court Wednesday that Curry devastated not only the town's finances, but its psyche. Many of its 175 residents live on fixed incomes.
"You feel like you've been robbed right out of your home," Chris Hughes told the judge.
Added John Breakfield, "The trust in this community has went to zero."
Curry worked as the part-time clerk from February 2006 though August 2010, earning $650 a month. Her job duties included issuing checks for the town's day-to-day expenses.
In April 2006, she started forging the mayor's and town council members' signatures on 132 checks in amounts ranging from $60 to $5,500.
"She used my name 128 times, more than I did in 12 years," said former councilman Robert Casper.
Curry admitted to manipulating the town's accounting records by adding entries which showed the voiding of forged checks and the reissuing of those same checks to commonly known vendors.
Townspeople and prosecutor Mark Hirata said Curry showed no remorse. Hirata said she took trips to Disneyland and Las Vegas since being charged last August and made no effort to apologize or pay restitution.2 comments on this story
Curry's attorney, David Maddox, took issue with Hirata's characterization, saying she did not go to Disneyland and was advised by the county attorney not to speak to town leaders while the case was pending. Maddox said Curry has been depressed and suicidal.
"She lived in her own self-imposed purgatory the last 10 months, " he said.
Curry was originally charged in 8th District Court with 15 counts of theft and 15 counts of forgery, all third-degree felonies. State prosecutors dropped the charges after the federal indictment came down.