Cross Pleads Guilty
Michael John Cross, 35, of 124 Terry Lane, Sistersville, appeared in Tyler County Circuit Court on Monday, May 18, for a possible plea to a one count felony indictment handed down by the grand jury on February 2015.
Cross was charged in the indictment with embezzlement by fraudulently converting to his own use, money belonging to the Tyler County Fair Association, having a value of $23,396.50. The money came into his possession and was placed under his care and management by virtue of his office as Treasurer of the Fair Association.
Cross, at a hearing on March 19, had entered a plea of not guilty to the charge and Judge David W. Hummell, Jr., had set a date of May 28, for a trial. On Monday, Jay Gerber, attorney for Cross told the court they had reached a plea agreement with the state and his client would like to withdraw his former plea and pled guilty as charged.
Judge Hummel, accepted the plea change. He then asked Cross a series of questions concerning his legal rights. After he was satisfied Cross understood, he found that Mr. Gerber had provided effective representation and that Cross was competent.
Hummel then asked Prosecutor Luke Furbee to tell the court what evidence they had to produce if the case were to go to trial. Furbee said they could prove the defendant was treasurer of the fair board beginnig in 2012 and ending in 2013. He said they have investigation reports from the West Virginia State Police which show there were a total of 52 checks totalings $23,396.50, which were converted to his own use.
Furbee said there were also records kept that showed his deposits were short and the WVa., board of risk had pated the fair association on a claim for all the money except a $2,500 Deductible which the fair board lost. Furbee also said the checks required two signatures and it appears Cross used a rubber stamp for the second signature, and Cross had claimed he was only rimbursing himself for expenses.
Judge Hummel, asked Cross to explain to him what he did to make him guilty of the crime.
“I stole the money. I was a bad alcoholic at the time and was drinking up the family money, and when money got short at home I took the money to help out,” Cross said.
Judge Hummel asked him what safe guards the fair association had in place. Cross said just the two signatures on the checks.
Hummel then agreed to allow Cross to plead guilty to the charge. According to the plea agreement the state agrees to stand silent during sentencing and Cross will be required to make restitution to the West Virginia Board of Risk and to the fair association. He was reminded by Judge Hummel that he is now a convicted felon, he was also ordered to report to the Probation office in New Martinsville so they can do a pre-sentencing report.
Judge Hummel set a hearing for arguing sentencing for 8:45 a.m. on Wednesday, June 17. Cross will remain free on bond.