(05/11/2006)
By Drew Moody
Special to the Hur Herald
The cost to Gilmer County for Michelle Dawn Rose's pilfering of tax moneys now exceeds $12,000, Sheriff Mickey Metz confirmed Wednesday.

Court appointed attorney John Oshoway of Grantsville said since Rose, of Glenville, was initially charged, more stolen money was discovered.

In addition, the state audit costs to Gilmer County were higher since special attention had to be given to the sheriff's department to sort things out.

Those costs have been added to Rose's debt to the county to arrive at the $12,000 plus mark.

"When there's a problem it (the audit) becomes much more in depth and requires more time," said Norma Hurley, deputy clerk of Gilmer County, explaining the higher costs incurred.

Judge Alsop told the court Monday he was very disappointed a plan for restitution had not been submitted and postponed sentencing until June 12 at 10:45 a.m.

He specifically asked to hear from the sheriff's office regarding its position on the matter.

Sheriff Metz said Wednesday he intends to submit a letter to Judge Alsop asking for complete restitution in the Rose case.

Gilmer County Commissioner Larry Chapman said the commission will be waiting to hear from the prosecutor. "He (Jerry Hough) should apprise us of the situation and tell us if there's a need for a letter."

Chapman does support restitution, but suggested any payment plan must take into consideration the defendant's budget. "She's a mother and she has a family," he said.

Fortunately, the missing funds will have no immediate impact on county services because the commission establishes a contingency fund each budget year.

According to Chapman, that fund is about three percent of the annual budget, or this year around $35,000. "We go into the budget with a little cushion.".

Commission President Dave Hess, who won his primary election Tuesday, was unavailable for comment.

Prosecuting attorney, Jerry Hough, told Judge Alsop Rose's situation was a "rare exception" and doesn't object to probation in this instance. Hough brought images of "Dante's Inferno," into his presentation regarding betraying the pubic trust, but added that Rose was aware she'd made poor decisions.

Hough suggested she was attempting to live beyond her means with a poor choice of friends, ultimately partying away much of the stolen money.

The defense has asked the court to have mercy in meting out punishment to Rose, who faces up to 10 years in prison for her crime. Court appointed attorney John Oshoway, of Grantsville, told the court Rose accepts responsibility for her actions and has made no excuses.

He maintained Rose's conduct in this instance is inconsistent with her past. Oshoway told the court an unexpected divorce, depression and dire financial stress were contributing factors leading up to the theft.

Oshoway acknowledged during his plea for his client that his client falsified receipts and took public funds, but said "incarceration is too harsh a punishment."

Michelle Rose spoke before the court as well during the proceedings. She tearfully apologized, telling Judge Alsop she regretted her actions every day. "I loved my job, and the people I worked with," she said.

Rose is the niece of Chief Deputy Jimmy Moss, who was instrumental in the initial investigation of the crime after citizens reported a problem with delinquent tax postings in the newspaper.


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