Sentencing delayed for OFU treasurer

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SALEM, Ohio — A delay has been sought in the sentencing of the former treasurer of the Ohio Farmers Union after she pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated theft.

Pleading guilty

Kathy Beutler, of Columbus Grove, Ohio, has pleaded guilty to aggravated theft, a third degree felony, from the Ohio Farmers Union. The incidents occurred between April 2005 and May 2009.

According to court records, she pleaded guilty to making 86 unauthorized electronic transfers totaling between $100,000 and $500,000 of the Ohio Farmers Union payroll account funds to her private checking account.

More time needed

Beutler was set for sentencing Dec. 1, but the Ohio Farmers Union asked for more time until a forensic audit of its business accounts is completed in order to determine the total loss related to the crime.

According to a clerk in the court office, both sides are looking for a sentencing date in February, but the judge has not set one yet.

Beutler reportedly used the funds to pay on a number of credit card accounts during those years. Bank records show large payments were made to the credit card companies.

A special prosecutor was appointed in the case because Beutler is the wife of Putnam County Sheriff James R. Beutler.

Investigation

The investigation began when the Ohio Farmers Union noticed funds missing and dwindling from the payroll account.

Beutler could face up to five years in prison, but the sentencing is at the discretion of the visiting Common Pleas Judge Keith P. Muehlfeld from Henry County, Ohio.

Currently, Beutler is free on her own recognizance with the condition that she not be involved with Farmers Union except through her attorney in determining restitution amounts.

About the Author

Kristy Foster Seachrist lives in Columbiana County raising sheep and horses. She earned her degree from Youngstown State University and has worked in both print and broadcast journalism. You can follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/fosterk96. More Stories by Kristy Foster Seachrist

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