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Front Page » May 12, 2009 » Carbon County News » Judge slates hearing in case filed against former literac...
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Judge slates hearing in case filed against former literacy program director


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By LYNNDA JOHNSON
Sun Advocate editor

The 7th District Court has scheduled a June 19 preliminary hearing date in the criminal complaint charging Price City Library's former literacy program director with 30 separate felony level offenses.

The defendant, 56-year-old Paula White Lewis, appeared before Judge George M. Harmond on May 4 to answer the second degree theft and third degree forgery counts outlined in the felony criminal information.

Carbon County Attorney Gene Strate acted on behalf of the state prosecutor's office at the initial hearing in the criminal case and Joane White represented the defendant at the district court proceeding.

After accepting a copy of the formal felony level complaint, the defense requested a preliminary hearing in connection with the matter and the court set the June date to conduct the proceeding in the criminal information.

Dated April 2, the formal criminal complaint contends that all 30 of the felony level crimes occurred during the period ranging from July 2001 through February 2009 while the defendant served as the city library's literacy program director.

The second and third degree charges stem from alleged reimbursement, vendor payment and receipting discrepancies involving the library's former literacy program director.

Capt. Kevin Drolc of the Price City Police Department spearheaded an extensive investigation into the defendant's alleged criminal activities 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 law enforcement authorities, the county attorney's office decided the evidence supported charging Lewis with one second degree felony 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.

In counts two through 30, the criminal information maintains that Lewis purportedly executed or transferred false writings with the purpose of defrauding Price city.

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

Prior to the culmination of the criminal investigation, Lewis had served at the library's literacy program director since Aug. 1, 1989.

As the 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 conducted 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 Lewis.

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