(10/17/2005)
A Gilmer County tax clerk working for Sheriff Mickey Metz has been charged with embezzling and fraudulently stealing about $8,500, according to Sgt. C. M. Alton, Jr. of the West Virginia State Police.

Michelle Dawn Rose, 29, of Glenville, reportedly admitted to converting taxpayer money to personal use, according to authorities.

The charges came after an audit of the Sheriff's office, reportedly covering July 1, 2004 to May 15, 2005. Metz was elected sheriff, taking office on January 1, 2005.

Gilmer Sheriff Mickey Metz accused the Hur Herald of publishing rumors regarding an audit, which the Herald said was being conducted regarding his department's financial records.

Metz told the Glenville Democrat that such reports are unjustified, saying that the audit was not being done exclusively on his department, but that "The whole county government is being audited."

Officials disputed Metz's statement, saying there was a focused audit being completed on the Sheriff's records.

The audit was reportedly done because of complaints filed by Gilmer residents with the State Tax Department, over what they claimed to be irregularities.

Metz told the Glenville Pathfinder he is doing his own audit, and will live up to a promise he made to Gilmer voters to "clean things up."

Police said Michelle Rose, after being read her Miranda Rights, admitted to converting the money to personal use in two ways.

"The defendant advised if a taxpayer walked into the office to pay taxes with a check, she would take the check and give the taxpayer a receipt. Once the taxpayer walked away, the defendant would delete the payment from the computer and put the check in the cash drawer and take out money in the amount of the check, so the drawer would have the correct amount at the close of the day," according to the warrant.

"The defendant advised that the second way she converted money to her own use was when a taxpayer mailed in a payment with a check," indicting she used the same procedure.

Sheriff Metz has now told authorities that he posted delinquent taxes and that several taxpayers had contacted his office and advised that they were listed as delinquent, but in fact they paid their taxes and had checks to prove their payment.

The Glenville Democrat-Pathfinder reported "The whole matter came to light, County Clerk Marks points out, because the Hur Herald, a web newspaper operating out of Calhoun County, had received several e-mails from outraged Gilmer County taxpayers, in that their names had appeared, ostensibly incorrect, in the delinquent property tax reports...They had paid their taxes."

Metz told the Glenville newspaper "I don't hide the progress this office is making."


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