(Neb)-Dawes County Treasurer Charged With 7 Misdemeanors
CHADRON - Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson has charged Dawes County Treasurer Barb Sebesta with 7 misdemeanors, one count of 2nd-degree forgery and 6 counts of official misconduct.
The charges stem from a state audit released last September that found Sebesta made a number of relatively minor procedural errors, but also had some serious violations including ones that could lead to criminal charges.
The forgery charge involves Sebesta changing the amount on a check written by a taxpayer from $85.20 to $851.20 without that person's approval. Sebesta said in the audit she was trying to clarify what the amount was and didn't verify the number back to the receipt.
Although the amount on the check was changed, the amount on the county deposit slip remained the same...leading the bank to change the deposit slip total to the higher amount and notify Sebesta of the change. When she received the correction notice from the bank, she told them what she had done and the bank reversed the action of increasing the amount.
The misconduct charges include at least 2 instances of failing to collect sales tax or sales tax forms in a timely manner, which she explained in the audit were attempts to help out one buyer who was "short of funds at the time" and one she knew would owe no sales tax on a farm-use ATV purchase.
Other misconduct charges involved failing to maintain trust balances in a timely fashion, and depositing bond forfeitures into the county's general fund rather than distributing them to the schools as required by law.
The maximum penalty on the forgery charge is one year in jail and a $1,000 fine with the maximum for official misconduct is 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Judge Russell Harford of Chadron has recused himself from the case and been replaced by Judge Randin Roland of Sidney.
Sebasta is in her second term as treasurer after working in the treasurer's office for 6 years before winning election in 2010. She is up for reelection next year and has declined to comment on the charges at this time.
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