Martin Co.Fair Board Members Plead Guilty to Misappropriating Funds

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 8/21/14 @ 11:50 a.m.
INEZ, Ky. (WSAZ) – Two members of the Martin County Fair Board have pleaded guilty to misappropriating more than $90,000 in funds from the organization.

Robin Denise Spence, 47, and Charles Spence, 59, both of Tomahawk, pleaded guilty to all the charges against them during a hearing in Martin County Circuit Court Thursday morning.

Each was charged with one count diversion of charitable gaming funds for financial benefit over $300/complicity.

Robin Spence was also charged with seven counts of diversion of charitable gaming funds for financial benefit over $300, and one count of theft by failure to make required disposition of property over $10,000, according to court documents.

As part of their plea agreements, prosecutors recommended a 20-year sentence for Robin and a 5-year sentence for Charles. The pair is also required to pay $91,000 in restitution to the Division of Charitable Gaming. $30,000 of that restitution must be paid before final sentencing next month.

The couple was indicted on the charges back in March. Investigators say the missing money came from bingo pull tab sales and other charitable events between January 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012.



ORIGINAL STORY 3/20/14
MARTIN COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) – Pushing past a WSAZ.com reporter and photographer, a woman tried to keep the camera away from Robin and Charles Spence as they left a courtroom Thursday morning.

The couple, from Tomahawk, Ky., is accused of stealing nearly $100,000 from charitable gaming funds. Both entered not guilty pleas in Martin County Circuit Court. Robin Denise Spence, 47, is accused of using charitable gaming money for her own purposes while she was president of the Martin County Fair Board in 2011 and 2012. Charles Spence, 59, is accused of complicity for about $8,000 of that total.

The indictments say the thefts did not just involve cashing checks or taking money and using it for their own purposes, but also misreporting amounts of sales from gaming tabs and withholding payments to the Fair Board and other organizations.

Investigators say the Fair Board was based in a storefront next to a grocery store and check-cashing store off KY-645 in Martin County. A worker at the check-cashing store told WSAZ.com she never saw any of the alleged activities happen but that she had heard plenty of rumors.

Martin County Sheriff Garmon Preece told WSAZ.com his deputies were the ones who arrested the Spences over the weekend.

Dick Brown, the public information officer for the Public Protection Cabinet, said that investigators from the Department of Charitable Gaming were involved but could not release how the investigation began or what kind of tips led them to investigate the organization.

Martin County Commonwealth Attorney Anna Melvin told WSAZ.com that the state had done the investigation but that her office was handling the prosecution.

State filings for the Martin County Fair Board list Robin Spence as president of the Martin County Fair Board, which is listed as an “inactive” organization in “bad” standing. The last report filed for the Fair Board was in May of 2012, and the filings show the organization was dissolved in the fall of 2013.

The couple was indicted by a Martin County Grand Jury earlier this month.

Robin Spence faces seven counts of diversion of charitable gaming funds for financial benefit over $300, a Class D felony, and one count of complicity to that charge, also a Class D felony. Each count could result in up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. She also faces one count of theft by failure to make required disposition of property over $10,000, a Class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000.

Charles Spence faces one count of complicity to diversion of charitable gaming funds for financial benefit over $300.

The defense attorney representing the couple at Thursday’s arraignment told WSAZ.com he did not have a comment and that the case would be reassigned to another attorney.

Both Spences remain out of jail on bond -- $10,000 for Robin Spence and $5,000 for Charles Spence.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.


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