Married couple defendants get no-contact order waived

T-L Photo/ ROBERT A. DEFRANK/ Dawn Lee, accused of theft in office offenses at York Township and the York Township Water Authority, is headed soon for trial. Meanwhile, the no-contact order between she and her husband and co-defendant, Ryan Lee, was lifted.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Belmont County Common Pleas Judge John Vavra ruled Monday to release the no-contact order on a husband and wife accused of stealing nearly $100,000 from York Township and the York Water Authority.

Dawn Lee, 47, and Ryan Reed Lee, 49, may have contact with each other as a result of the ruling. Court records list them as residing on Chestnut Street. The defense had requested the no-contact order be lifted on the grounds that the expense incurred by forcing them to find separate residences was a burden and they each faced obstacles to preparing a defense because they share records.

Stephanie Anderson, public integrity officer with the Ohio State Auditorás office assigned to prosecute the case, said she had no objection to releasing the no-contact order.

No plea agreements have been reached. Dawn Leeás trial remains set for Aug. 28, and Ryan Leeás trial for Aug. 21.

Co-defendant Irma Shreffler, 69, of 54129 Powhatan Hill Road, Dawn Leeás mother, is also set for trial Aug. 14. The no-contact order for her remains.

Dawn Lee had served as fiscal officer for York Township and the York Water Authority. She faces 27 felony charges and a maximum of 52 years in prison. Among these charges are 15 counts of theft in office; one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity; two counts of theft; seven counts of failure to remit income taxes or withholding taxes for the employees, township and water authority to the state; one count of tampering with records; and one count of failing to file her own personal income taxes.

The charges arose from accusations of misuse of township credit cards, overpayment of wages, miscellaneous reimbursements, failing to file income tax returns, and failure by Lee to remit income taxes she collected from the township and water authority employees.

The state believes about $90,000 was stolen from the township and about $8,000 from the water authority.

Ryan Lee is charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, receiving stolen property, complicity to theft in office, failure to file tax returns, receiving stolen property and theft in office. He faces a maximum of 19 years in prison.

The state believes he accepted payments from the township for work not performed. Ryan Lee also allegedly was paid in excess of what is permitted for work as a meter reader/meter technician for the water authority.

Shreffler is charged with two counts of receiving stolen property for receiving payment from her daughter for work that she did not perform at the township, a fifth-degree felony. Shreffler also faces charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a second-degree felony; complicity to commit theft in office, a fourth-degree felony; and failure to file income taxes, a fifth-degree felony. She faces a maximum of 11 1/2 years.

Meanwhile, another married couple pleaded guilty to theft and deception charges and were allowed to enter drug court because of the wifeás part in gathering evidence against a former St. Clairsville urologist who has since been tried and sentenced.

Ashley Padgett, 30, whose last known address is in Neffs, and Ryan Padgett, 32, whose last known address is in Bellaire, entered their guilty pleas to deception to obtain dangerous drugs, a fifth-degree felony. Ashley Padgett had been accused of four counts for crimes that allegedly occurred Feb. 19, 2017, while Ryan Padgett was accused of two counts for offenses that allegedly occurred Feb. 21, 2017.

In prior hearings, they had expressed the intention of living at the same address.

Charges stem from Ashley Padgettás theft of a prescription pad from her former employer, Rodney Curtis. According to the prosecutorás office, the the Padgetts are accused of using the pad to write prescriptions.

Ashley Padgett and Curtis were involved involved romantically, and this relationship proved valuable to investigators when she acted as a confidential informant during controlled drug buys from Curtis. She also testified during his trial in January. Curtis was convicted of trafficking and possession of drugs and sentenced to six months in the Belmont County Jail and six months in the East Ohio Correction Center.

The Ohio Medical Board could not be reached to comment on any possible upcoming hearings with regards to Curtisá license. According to state records, Curtisá license remains suspended as of February.

If the Padgetts successfully complete the drug court program, the criminal charges will be removed for their records. Failure to compete will result in sentencings.

The Belmont County Prosecutorás Office commended the drug investigators at the major crimes task force, along with the Ohio Board of Pharmacy and the Ohio Medical Board.

âWith the plea of guilty to day of Ashley Padgett, this puts an end to the investigation of Dr. Rodney Curtis and his former employee for drug-related offenses,ã said Belmont County Prosecutor Dan Fry. âKnowing that these abuses and illegal sales of prescription drugs were occurring, we knew we had to do something. That is why we worked so hard to get convictions on all involved.ã