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Front Page » April 7, 2009 » Carbon County News » Literacy director charged with 30 felony offenses
Published 1,843 days ago

Literacy director charged with 30 felony offenses


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By LYNNDA JOHNSON
Sun Advocate editor

The Carbon County Attorney's Office has filed a formal criminal complaint in the 7th District Court charging the Price City Library's former literacy program director with 30 separate second and third degree felony level offenses.

Dated April 2, the criminal information contends that all 30 of the felony level crimes occurred during the period ranging from July 2001 through February 2009 while the defendant, identified as 56-year-old Paula White Lewis, served as the city library's literacy program director.

An extensive criminal investigation into purported reimbursement, vendor payment and receipting discrepancies involving the literacy program director culminated with the state prosecutor's office deciding to file the formal felony level complaint, indicated Carbon County Attorney Gene Strate during an interview last Friday.

Capt. Kevin Drolc of the Price City Police Department spearheaded the investigation into the defendant's alleged criminal actions and forwarded the evidence along with all incident reports to the county attorney's office for review on March 31.

After screening the information collected by local law enforcement authorities, the county attorney's office determined that the evidence supported charging Lewis with one second degree felony level theft count along with 29 additional third degree forgery offenses.

In count one, the formal criminal complaint accuses the defendant of obtaining unauthorized control and depriving Price city of monies totaling in excess of $50,000.

The second degree felony theft offense reportedly occurred within the designated July 2001 to February 2009 time period.

Prior to the criminal investigation, Lewis had served at the library's literacy program director since Aug. 1, 1989, pointed out the county attorney.

As director, the defendant monitored the literacy program's finances, executed purchase receipts and issued reimbursements as well as vendor payments.

After Lewis' questionable financial practices as the library's literacy director came under scrutiny, Price law enforcement officials launched the criminal investigation into the matter, explained Strate during the April 3 interview.

Price police investigators scheduled interviews with several vendors listed on receipts signed by the defendant. But local law enforcement authorities could not locate several apparently non-existent businesses receiving payments from the program and purportedly linked the fraudulent financial transactions along with improper credit card reimbursements directly to the defendant. In counts two through 30, the criminal case maintains that Lewis purportedly executed or transferred false writings with the purpose of defrauding Price city.

The formal criminal information accuses the defendant of committing the 29 third degree felony forgery offense between July 2001 and February 2009 while acting in the capacity of the literacy program's director.

On April 6, the district court confirmed that a summons has been issued to the former literacy program director in connection with the felony level criminal complaint. The county attorney's office also indicated that the defendant's initial court appearance on the second and third degree charges has been tentatively scheduled on May 4, but the date remains contingent upon Lewis being formally served with the summons.

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April 7, 2009
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