SIDNEY – It was probation, jail time and payback for a rural Anna couple who served as treasurer and president of the Maplewood Fire Department for taking more than $150,000 from the organization.
On Tuesday, Jason R. Lemly, 40, and Jessica L. Lemly, 30, were sentenced for their part in embezzling funds on an ongoing basis from April 2016 through June 2019. The funds were used to provide the family an extravagant lifestyle that included vacations, beauty salon visits, restaurant dining, photography sessions and a hot air balloon ride.
The Lemly’s have paid back $7,000 of the funds, according to Shelby County Prosecutor Tim Sell.
In separate cases, both were placed on five years of probation and ordered to pay back $151, 396.55 in remaining restitution. Both were also ordered to serve time at the Shelby County Jail with work release privileges.
On Jan. 6, Jason Lemly, who served as treasurer, pleaded guilty to one count of theft, a fourth-degree felony, and four counts of forgery, all fifth-degree felonies. Another 22 counts of forgery were dismissed.
Mrs. Lemly pleaded guilty to one count of theft, a fourth-degree felony. Mrs. Lemly served as president of the department.
Also, the Lemly’s agreed to pay $158,396.55 in restitution.
The couple resides at 14382 Amsterdam Road and was represented by attorney Scott Kelly of Sidney.
Jason Lemly was ordered to serve 180 days in jail commencing March 9. Due to his failing a drug test during the presentence investigation, he was ordered to obtain drug and alcohol counseling, according to Judge James Stevenson.
The judge also decreed he create a restitution payback schedule and the couple maintain payments.
Jessica Lemly was sentenced to 90 days in jail with work release, but does not have to report until Sept. 15.
Stevenson delayed Mrs. Lemly’s sentence until her husband has served his time due to the couple having young children. He also informed her that she would not be permitted to work at a location that serves alcohol and must find a different job, according to probation guidelines.
The judge also informed Jason Lemly he is facing up to 30 months in prison and Jessica Lemly 18 months, if they fail to follow the rules of probation.
Kelly said Mrs. Lemly was not an equal conspirator in the thefts. That she was following the actions of her husband. He claims the Lemlys took small amounts of money over the years and were unaware of the magnitude of what was missing.
Sell said both were equally guilty. The couple were the “checks and balances” for the department and violated that trust. Stevenson agreed with Sell.
The judge said the crimes were not a spur of the moment, but repeated action that both knew was happening.
Maplewood Fire Department Chief Jeff Noah said volunteering for the department was a friends and family atmosphere. Hard work during fundraising events was rewarded with the Lemlys not depositing cash, but kept for their personal use.
Department member Russell Bell said it was his name that the couple forged on documents to obtain cash. He took the crimes personally saying the Lemlys were “our friends” who were trusted to oversee the organization’s finances.
Both men said the reputation of the department has been stained and donors have talked with them about watching the finances. The replacement of an outdated fire truck and equipment was the target of funding the department anticipated was in the accounts.
Sell called the behavior of the Lemly’s as outrageous. The fact the couple showed little remorse and paid back such a small amount on “their day of reckoning.”
According to an August press release from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were contacted by officials of the Maplewood Fire Department on June 10, 2019, about fraudulent activity they had discovered on the department’s bank accounts.
During the course of the investigation, examiners claimed to have found that the Lemlys had embezzled funds for their personal gain through cash thefts and credit card misuse.
It was also determined Jason Lemly allegedly forged the signature of a member of the fire department on multiple checks, with proceeds of those checks going to the Lemlys.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.