Former Bluebird Retirement Community employee pleads guilty to stealing from resident

By Erin Thompson -

A former Bluebird Retirement Community employee pleaded guilty to stealing cash from a resident.

Leanna Brooks, 29, of Bellefontaine, pleaded guilty to theft, a fifth-degree felony in Madison County Common Pleas Court Thursday.

The investigation began when a resident in Brooks’ care noticed his cash was missing.

A “sting” was set up — the resident left cash in his unattended wallet and cameras were set up to catch the perpetrator red-handed. Brooks was busted stealing the money.

In total, about $700 was stolen over a period of time, according to assistant county prosecutor Nick Adkins.

Brooks will appear in court again April 19 for sentencing. She is currently out on bond.

She faces up to a year in prison for the crime.

Also in court Thursday:

• Kimberley Armentrout, 45, of West Jefferson, appeared for her formal pretrial hearing. She is charged with forgery, a fifth-degree felony, and two counts misdemeanor receiving stolen property.

Armentrout allegedly cashed a check intended for her daughter for about $225 and attempted to cash a check made out to her father for about $800.

The $800 check had already been deposited online, triggering the bank teller to contact Armentrout’s father before cashing it. Armentrout fled the bank when confronted.

In court, Armentrout’s attorney, Melissa Upthegrove, requested an intervention in lieu of conviction.

However, Upthegrove and Adkins disagreed on whether Armentrout is legally eligible. Judge Eamon Costello asked the two to reduce their arguments to writing. The court will revisit the matter March 30 during another formal pretrial hearing.

Armentrout is currently out on bond.

• Amanda Baker, 30, of Mount Sterling, pleaded guilty to illegal conveyance of drugs, a third-degree felony, and was sentenced to nine months in prison.

Baker was dating an inmate at Madison Correctional Institution last August when she attempted to sneak in pot for him.

Costello told Baker she was part of “an army” of young women who come through the court with no criminal history and end up in prison because they were used by an inmate.

• Justin Justice, 38, address unknown, pleaded guilty to fifth-degree felonious breaking and entering and was sentenced to nine months in prison.

• Greg Cox, 30, of Galloway, was arraigned on two theft charges, a forgery charge and a misuse of a credit card charge.

He is currently an inmate at Pickaway Correctional Institution and therefore bond was not set. He will appear in court again April 14 for his informal pretrial hearing.

• Jason Artis, 41, of London, pleaded guilty to two charges of trafficking in drugs, fifth-degree felonies.

As part of a plea deal, the state dropped a charge of complicity to trafficking in drugs, also a fifth-degree felony.

Artis also admitted to a community control violation. He was placed on two years community control last August following a drug trafficking conviction. In January, Artis admitted to his probation officer he had used heroin and failed a drug screen.

Artis will be sentenced for his new charges and the community control violation April 19. He is currently out on bond.

• Brennan Bell, 29, of London, appeared for his formal pretrial hearing.

Bell is charged with three counts trafficking in drugs, all fifth-degree felonies, and one count aggravated trafficking in drugs, a third-degree felony.

Typically, the formal pretrial hearing is the last chance for a plea deal. During court, Bell’s attorney, Robert Beck, requested more time to delve into the case and decide the best course of action.

Costello gave Beck until 4 p.m. to decide — plea deal or jury trial. At the time of press, Beck had not made a decision and was requesting one more day.

According to Adkins, it will probably be taken to trial.

By Erin Thompson

Reach Erin Thompson at 740-852-1616, ext. 1615.

Reach Erin Thompson at 740-852-1616, ext. 1615.