Former official violates probation

A former Jonesville clerk-treasurer who stole town funds over a seven-year period found herself back in a courtroom last week for violating terms of her probation.

Melissa Schultheis received a suspended 15-year sentence from then-Bartholomew Superior Court 1 Judge Chris Monroe after pleading guilty in late 2008 to 10 counts of theft.

During her Feb. 25, 2009, sentencing hearing, restitution to the town of Jonesville was set at $92,479, with a payment of no less than $300 a month.

That amount was modified to $200 a month in July 2015 after the case was moved to Bartholomew Circuit Court, Schultheis said Thursday.

While court documents show no record of the reduction, her claim was not disputed by Senior Judge Stephen Heimann.

Schultheis — who still owes $76,208 — admitted in Bartholomew Circuit Court that she made no restitution payments between Feb. 11 and Nov. 16 of last year.

Over the last few months, two payments of $100 apiece were submitted, Bartholomew County prosecutor Bill Nash said.

The criminal court judgment was reduced to a civil judgment in 2013 at the request of the Indiana Attorney General’s office. Rather than incarceration, Deputy Attorney General John Phillipp said his office was only seeking wage garnishments.

But Schultheis, 43, said she only makes $160 a week as a part-time floral designer. Schultheis told the court that her employer does not take withholdings out of her pay, nor provide her with records of payments.

At the request of Nash, Heimann made no decision regarding the requested revocation of Schultheis’ probation. Instead, he encouraged all parties to come up with an arrangement for payments to resume before another hearing takes place at 9:15 a.m. Feb. 16.

This marked the third time a petition to revoke Schultheis’ probation had been filed after she fell behind in restitution. In the first two cases, the petition was dismissed after she was able to catch up on her payments.

A state audit in December 2007 first revealed that Jonesville was missing thousands of dollars in its accounts. Schultheis, who served as Jonesville clerk-treasurer from September 1998 to January 2008, was subsequently arrested, causing divisions within the Wayne Township community of about 200 residents.

Some were angry, like former town board member John Stacy Bennett, who said Schultheis left the town financially devastated without money to make repairs and improvements.

But others expressed sympathy after Schultheis claimed the money went toward her children’s medical bills that her husband’s health care insurance declined to cover.

One of her three children was born prematurely, and another suffered from a rare blood disorder, Schultheis testified in 2008. Both received treatment at Riley Hospital in Indianapolis.

On Thursday, Schultheis said she still owes money on her children’s medical bills.

What's next

A hearing on a petition to revoke the probation of former Jonesville clerk-treasurer Melissa Schultheis will resume next month in Bartholomew Circuit Court.

It’s scheduled to be held at 9:15 a.m. Feb. 16 at the Bartholomew County Courthouse.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.