An Elkins woman was sentenced to one to 10 years in prison Monday after pleading guilty to embezzling more than $100,000 from an Elkins business.
Rogina Faye Helmick, 38, of 55 Logan Drive, pleaded guilty to one count of felony embezzlement on April 5.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Randolph County Magistrate Court, Helmick allegedly took $107,956.46 over a two-year period from her employer, Select In-Home Services. The money came from different sources, including $95,456.96 in extra payroll checks, $7,994.40 in Sears payments and $4,505 from employee Christmas Club accounts.
Sentencing had been scheduled for May 25 in Randolph County Circuit Court, but Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong said she had informed the attorneys involved in the case that morning that it had come to her attention the victims of the embezzlement, Select In-Home Services owners Pamela and Kathy Miller, had contributed to her election campaign in 2008.
The sentencing was rescheduled for Monday. At the start of the hearing, Wilfong asked Helmick's attorney, James Hawkins, if he had filed a request with the state to have her recused from the sentencing. Hawkins said his client had discussed it with her family members.
"We are satisfied completely that it will not effect your ability to render a sentence in the case," he said.
Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker noted that "a significant number of letters of recommendation and support for the defendant" had been received, and that Helmick had no prior criminal record.
He then pointed out that the largest check Helmick wrote was for $600.
"This was a decision that was made repeatedly over three years' time," Parker said. He asked Wilfong to give Helmick the maximum sentence, one to 10 years in the penitentiary.
Hawkins responded by saying that Helmick had "emotional and psychological issues" and had "engaged the services of a counselor." He noted that she does not have drug or alcohol problems.
"I have never seen anyone who felt so badly, and was so sorry for the activity they got involved in, and so sorry for the hurt she's caused," Hawkins said.
Helmick spoke briefly during the hearing, apologizing to the Millers.
"I never had any intention of hurting you all the way I have," she said. "I love you all like family."
Helmick also acknowledged she'd hurt her family, and said her "church family" was among the dozens of her supporters present in the courtroom Monday.
Helmick said she had three minor children at home. At one point in her remarks she began to cry and had to pause for a long moment.
Hawkins asked Wilfong to give Helmick the maximum sentence and suspend it, putting her on probation. He said that Helmick had saved up $2,100 to apply to restitution to the Millers.
Wilfong also allowed attorney Scott Curnutte to speak representing the Millers.
"She didn't make these decisions in the spur of the moment," Curnutte said. "She didn't just steal (the Millers') money. She stole the employee's Christmas Club money."
In sentencing, Wilfong pointed out that Helmick made the decision to steal from her employers "hundreds of times" over the three years. "This was a repeated, calculated, connived scheme," she said.
"I don't think you're a bad person," Wilfong told Helmick. "I think you made a terrible mistake and you need to have a proper punishment."
In addition to one to 10 years in prison, Wilfong ordered Helmick to make restitution to the Millers in the amount of $107,956.46, and assigned her to pay court costs.
Helmick was remanded to the custody of the sheriff's department to begin serving her sentence. Several members of her family were sobbing as she was led out of the courtroom Monday.