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Tionesta Woman Sentenced to Probation for Stealing Nearly $12K From Local Assisted Living Facility, Clients

Friday, January 14, 2022 @ 12:01 AM

Posted by Leon Aristeguieta

gavel-new-aCLARION CO., Pa. (EYT) – A Tionesta woman was sentenced on Wednesday to two years of probation for stealing nearly $12,000.00 from an assisting living facility and two of its clients.

In Clarion County Court of Common Pleas on Wednesday, January 12, 64-year-old Debra Elaine Whittington was sentenced to two years of probation on a first-degree misdemeanor count of Theft By Unlawful Taking-Movable Property.

She was also ordered to pay $11,917.28 to the victim and have no contact with the organization, its employees, and its clients.

She pleaded guilty to the above-described charge on November 12, 2021.

As a result of the plea deal, the following charges were dropped:

– Theft By Unlawful Taking-Movable Property, Felony 3 (two counts)
– Theft By Deception-Fail To Correct, Felony 3 (three counts)
– Receiving Stolen Property, Felony 3
– Receiving Stolen Property, Misdemeanor 2 (two counts)
– Theft By Unlawful Taking-Movable Property, Misdemeanor 1 (one count)

“This was a strange case,” said defense attorney Blair Hindman. “Deb took money; she never said that she didn’t. This is a serious issue and serious crime, but you’ll never hear from Deb Whittington again.”

Details of the case:

According to a criminal complaint, around 3:03 p.m. on June 12, Clarion Borough Police received a complaint from the executive director of a business in Clarion Borough regarding an employee of the business, identified as Debra Elaine Whittington, who had been stealing money from two clients who require assisted living.

The director told police that the victims’ families had both inquired about missing money and had requested documentation of the victims’ expenses. Whittington was advised to provide the documentation to the families, according to the complaint.

Although Whittington provided the documents, they were missing several initials from the victims, which are typically required. Whittington was then suspended from her position, pending further investigation, the complaint indicates.

According to the complaint, the director told police that after Whittington was suspended, the original documents were located in Whittington’s office, documenting the missing money. The director provided police with both sets of documents and advised that Whittington also possessed a company credit card during her employment, as well.

The complaint states that when Whittington was suspended, she told the director that she had “accidentally” used the company credit card to pay one of her personal bills. The director planned to get the credit card statements, review the charges, and provide police with documentation of any unauthorized charges. She also provided police with a screenshot of two text messages she had received from Whittington, stating: “can U tell me if U think I will get called back to work. Please be honest,” and, “If I would resign, could we avoid any hearings or criminal charges?”

Police then made contact with Whittington and requested she come in for an interview.

Whittington initially denied taking any money from the victims, but when confronted with the two separate sets of documents, she admitted she had been stealing from her clients, according to the complaint.

Whittington reportedly said she had been taking money from her clients for approximately a year and a half. When asked how much money she had taken, Whittington said she was unsure, but went on to say she “took a $20 here and a $20 there,” the complaint indicates.

When she was asked if she took the money because she felt she wasn’t being paid enough at work, she responded in the affirmative, but then quickly said she wanted that statement “off the record,” and added: “It’s not the company’s fault, it’s my fault,” according to the complaint.

When questioned about the two sets of records, Whittington said that when she was asked to provide the documents, she had to create a second record to cover the money she had taken, and that was why the victims’ initials were missing from the one set of documents, the complaint states.

Police spoke to the director again on June 15.

According to the complaint, the director reported Whittington was also in charge of payroll, and a review of payroll records discovered that Whittington had been paying herself for extra hours she had not worked. She noted there were pays with as much as 20 to 30 extra hours added.

On June 19, the director provided police with documentation of the amounts missing from the victims and the payroll.

The records indicated that between August 2017 through June 2, 2020, the following transactions occurred:

– Whittington overpaid herself in the amount of $5,334.00 by adding extra hours to her timesheet;
– $1,586.46 was taken from the two victim’s “family account”;
– $2,468.76 was taken from the first victim’s account;
– $2,439.61 was taken from the second victim’s account; and
– $88.45 was paid to a known utility company from the company credit card.

According to the complaint, the total restitution owed is $11,917.28.

In a second interview, Whittington was asked about the payroll over-payment, and she reportedly claimed the over-payment was because she “sold back days that she had earned.” When asked about the number of days she sold back, she told police she had 160 days saved up and sold some of them back. When she was advised that the extra hours she had overpaid herself totaled 392 hours, Whittington said she did not have that many hours and did not know how that happened, the complaint states.

Police then spoke to the director again. It was learned that Whittington had only sold back days once, and it was noted that employees were not even permitted by policy to bank 160 days, according to the complaint.

The charges against Whittington were filed through Magisterial District Judge Duane L. Quinn’s office on June 24.

Court documents indicate she was arraigned in front of Judge Quinn at 1:04 p.m. on Monday, July 13.

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