PAXTON — A former employee of the Paxton Park District was arrested Tuesday for allegedly stealing money from the district over five years.
Beth E. Tabor, 43, of Paxton, was arrested by state and Paxton police and Ford County sheriff's deputies after a court-ordered search at her home, according to a news release from state police at Ashkum.
Police said Tabor allegedly misappropriated between $10,000 and $100,000 in park district funds while she was an administrative assistant at the park district, from 2006 until May 2011.
She allegedly used district credit card accounts to buy items for personal use, several of which were found at her home, the release said.
Police declined to say exactly how much money Tabor allegedly stole or what items were purchased.
Tabor remained at the Ford County jail Wednesday morning. Ford County State's Attorney Matt Fitton said he was waiting for police reports before filing charges against Tabor.
Park district officials were saddened by the news.
"If the allegations prove to be true, then it's definitely unfortunate," said Recreation Director Neal McKenry.
"I agree with Neal," said park board President Eric Evans. "If everything comes out to be true, it is very unfortunate, and it's just hard to believe that somebody can take from the children of the community and the taxpayers of the community. It's just hard to believe somebody's willing to do that. It's just a sad thing."
Evans said the park district asked police to investigate the possibility of misappropriated funds after Tabor was laid off in May 2011. Before asking for an investigation, Evans said, the park district conducted its own audit.
"We had a forensic accountant come in, and he checked everything out and found some stuff that just wasn't kosher," Evans said.
Earlier, at the April 2011 park board meeting, the board's attorney, Bob Martensen, announced that the park district's bookkeeping was "a mess" in the past year, when Tabor was the only full-time employee of the park district.
Martensen said the blame could be spread "all around," from the board members to Tabor to accountant Nick Fiorillo to himself.
Among the troubles pointed out by Martensen: board members did not receive monthly financial reports and restricted funds were used to pay unrestricted bills and vice versa.
Tabor mentioned at that meeting that she personally paid for upwards of $1,000 worth of program supplies, such as soccer balls and basketballs, because the park district did not have funds available.
Tabor was laid off the following month due to a lack of funds to keep her on the payroll while also hiring a full-time recreation director.
The park district's current tax levy includes $13,000 to cover costs of unemployment compensation for Tabor.
Martensen said Wednesday that he doubts the pending criminal case will affect the unemployment benefits Tabor has been receiving.